Life as it is in the Senate

This will be the first time I will be posting something on my blog that I did not write. I prefer to write about my personal insights, life experiences with family and friends, and avoid serious work related stuff, since all that you can read on my official website www.senatorpiacayetano.com. But given the subject matter, I thought it would be best that those who heard about this issue get the chance to read this piece. The introduction is from my media officer Mike Ac-ac who sent out the article below to those on our official mailing list. If you would like to be included, just send us an email at [email protected]

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Dear All,

Greetings!

On Jan.28th and 29th, TV, radio and print media carried news on the “walk out” staged by Sen.Jamby Madrigal at a committee hearing being presided over by Senate environment committee Chair Sen.Pia S. Cayetano on 30 proposed protected area laws in different parts of the country.

News reports quoted a fuming Sen.Madrigal calling Sen.Cayetano a “spoiled brat” after her walk out. She also criticized the latter for spending too much time on sports activities instead of focusing on legislative work. But Sen.Cayetano remained calm, choosing not to dignify the accusations and appealing on Sen.Madrigal to just let her do her job.

Below is an insider’s view of the Jamby-Pia incident written by Senate beat senior reporter Efren Danao, and which appeared on his column in the Manila Times on Feb.4. Mr. Danao knows the Senate inside-out, having covered the beat for decades. We are sharing this article to give others a wider perspective of what appeared in the news as just another emotionally charged moment at the Senate.

Mike C. Ac-ac
Media Officer
Sen. Pia S. Cayetano

INSIDE CONGRESS
By Efren L. Danao, Manila Times, Feb. 4, 2008

Link:
http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2008/feb/04/yehey/opinion/20080204opi4.html

Rumble at the Senate: Pia vs. Jamby

Women have gone a long way at the Senate since the election of Geronima Pecson as the first lady senator in November 1947 and served for two terms. From 1947 to 1965, only one lady senator was elected in each election ”Pecson, 1947 to 1953, Pacita Madrigal,1956to 1961, Maria Kalaw Katigbak in the 1961 election. Now, in the Fourteenth Congress, there are four lady senators Pia Cayetano, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Loren Legarda and Jamby Madrigal. Four is the biggest number of lady senators ever and this was also reached at the Eleventh Congress and the Thirteenth Congress.

I now fear that the strides made by lady politicians would be set back by the latest incident between Pia and Senator Madrigal. The two entered the Senate at the same time, in 2004, and almost immediately, Madrigal showed her antagonism towards Pia. A member of the majority, Pia was given two committee posts, one of which was coveted by Madrigal, who belonged to the minority. When Pia said she was willing to give up one of the committees in favor of Madrigal, the latter angrily retorted that committee chairmanship is not a thing that could be given to somebody as a favor.

Bad blood

The “bad blood” between the two was also discernible each time Pia sponsored something on the floor. Madrigal would ask for the submission of even minute details about the subject. Maybe, Pia would have wanted to return the “favor,” except that Madrigal had never sponsored anything since 2004. Oh yes, she did sponsor one ”the Juvenile Justice System” as chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations. However, she later disowned the bill, interpellated the sponsor, proposed amendments and even voted against it” unthinkable for a chairman of a sponsoring committee if you ask me.

The latest “encounter” between the two took place last Tuesday when Pia held a hearing on protected areas as chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. Madrigal walked out of the hearing after failing to convince Pia to hold separate hearings on each of the 30 bills on protected areas, and called her “a spoiled brat.” She had also derided Pia as one who was not born with a silver spoon. The Madrigals (Pacita Madrigal, the second senator of the land was her aunt) are old rich that made their fortune in shipping and mining, among other businesses.

I may be partial towards Pia but I do know that she would call as many hearings as possible to get full data and cross-section opinions on a bill. Her industry might have escaped public notice because very often, her committee hearings were not extensively covered by the media. In several such hearings, I was the only newsman present and in some instances, I was joined by Bulletin’s Mar Casayuran. During the holiday break, Pia was conducting hearings while others were enjoying their vacation.

Jamby’s record

Madrigal would have been more credible in seeking more committee hearings had she been as industrious as Pia in conducting them. Since 2004, she had never sponsored on the floor any of the hundreds of bills referred to her committees. In the Fourteenth Congress, I think she did hold one committee “hearing,” but this was held in The Netherlands and by his lonesome, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Peace, Unity and Reconciliation.

Her negligence as chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations was also evident in her inaction on various bills proposing a Magna Carta for Women. A group of women activists led by Inquirer columnist Rina Jimenez David went to the Senate Wednesday to lobby for passage of the proposed law, whose bills had been languishing in Madrigal’s committee.

The Magna Carta for Women seeks to give more teeth to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women that was adopted in 1979 by the United Nations and ratified by the Senate in August 1981. Although it has been in force for 26 years in the Philippines, Filipino women continue to suffer from various forms of discrimination. The proposed Magna Carta for Women is meant to strengthen the promotion of gender equality in the country, which should be a priority for Madrigal’s committee.

Incidentally, there are six bills pending in the Senate on the Magna Carta for Women. These bills were filed by Senators Manuel Villar, Bong Revilla, Ping Lacson, Loren Legarda, Edgardo Angara and Pia Cayetano. Could Pia’s authorship have any bearing on Madrigal’s failure to act on the bills? Expect media, to give full coverage to that hearing if and when it is held in anticipation of sparks flying between the two again.

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