Lobregat hails Alvarez as new House Speaker PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 26 July 2016 12:05

By DEXTER YAP

Congressman Celso Lobregat on Monday commended a former colleague in the 11th Congress — Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez —  for having been overwhelmingly  elected as the House Speaker of the 17th Congress.

With 251 congress members voting in his favor, the partymate of President Rodrigo Duterte from the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) clinched the House top post following a three-way fight with Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez and Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat.

Former House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. nominated Alvarez for the position, saying he and the Liberal Party are throwing their support behind the Davao del Norte lawmaker’s leadership.

Belmonte’s nomination was seconded by representatives from PDP-Laban, Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), National Unity Party (NUP), and Nacionalista Party (NP).

From an extreme minority party, PDP-Laban membership soared up to 100 members in time for the start of the 17th Congress yesterday. Another 20 members of the Liberal Party led by former House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte also joined the so-called “Super Majority”, aside from other political parties wich earlier had a coalition with the ruling party.

Being a former colleague in the 11th Congress, Lobregat believes that Alvarez can ably managed the affairs in the House of Representatives.

“In behalf of the people of Zamboanga, I am fully supporting the leadership of Bebot Alvarez as the House Speaker, he is a veteran and a known legislator, he knows what is best for Mindanao and the country,” Lobregat said.

The Western Mindanao bloc of representatives led by Lobregat all voted in favor of Alvarez for the speakership. This includes representatives from the ARMM and the entire Mindanao region.

After taking his oath, Speaker Alvarez delivered a short but significant message which is full of challenges for the members of the 17th Congress.

He started by saying he will follow the example of President Duterte by signing an Executive Order on the Freedom of Information (FOI) wherein Alvarez urged his colleagues in congress to do their part and make FOI applicable to all branches of government.

Alvarez urged every member to bring out truth and transparency in all government transactions and give their full support to the Duterte administration.

Issues like the Metro Manila Traffic, simplifying the General Appropriations Act (GAA), the Procurement Law, and Taxation were part of his mentioned priorities.

On the mining issue, Alvarez said that with the support of congress, he would like to see mining companies securing a legislative franchise before being allowed to operate. A legislative oversight committee should look into the mining franchise which can be revoked by the same, instead of DENR office.

Labor laws should be with revisions, increase penalties for non-payment of minimum wages and violators should be prosecuted.

He also asked his colleagues to support the increase in Social Security Pension which he said should be adjusted upwards to buy groceries and medicines of retirees and senior citizens, and if there is a must to increase contributions to fund the pensions benefits, then we must to anticipate future needs of the pensioners.

During elections, PWD, senior citizens should have opportunity of absentee voting to exercise rights.

The Revision of 1987 Constitution and transformation in the system of government from unified presidential to federal parliamentary one. He said that the present government system resulted to stunted growth of about 80% of the country.

A   lvarez said that the power of Imperial Manila over the rest of our nation has to end and the local government units (LGU’s) must stand at their own feet.

The speaker urged his co-leagues not to fear change and that the only thing we should fear is the fear of change itself and for us to embrace it and be instruments of change.

He finally urged all congressmen to roll their sleeves and get to work and fulfill their clear mission which is to enact laws to deliver to our nation and for people to have a better future. – Dexter Yap