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MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE: 7:23 pm) Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has formed a committee to study alternative sites for the Senate, Senator Franklin Drilon told reporters on Thursday during the weekly Kapihan sa Senado. One leading candidate: the UP Diliman campus in Quezon City.
Drilon said he had been asked and authorized to lead the search committee for a viable site, and said the State University's main campus is an early option.
"We are still in the preliminary stages," he stressed.
“The Senate President has authorized me and a committee composed of Senators Pia Cayetano and Ferdinand Marcos to start examining the possibility of moving to a new site,” Drilon said. “The GSIS building [where the Senate now holds office] was not designed for a legislative body like the Senate, so we have to look for a new site and preferably one near the House of Representatives where we can work more smoothly as two legislative bodies.”
Among the sites considered by the committee were the Film Center inside the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex in Pasay City, the central Post Office building at the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila and UP Diliman, near the Technohub Complex, in Quezon City.
Film center, post office ruled out
“We looked at three sites. The first site we looked at is the Film Center. The recommendation is not to go there because of questions pertaining to its structural capability. The second is the Post Office, but again we did not proceed because one, it is too huge; two, the location is not very ideal, and three, that area gets flooded. Now, we will be examining the possibility of transferring to UP Diliman,” Drilon said.
“One of the considerations is it should be near the House of Representatives in order to speed up coordination between the two chambers. We will be having our own building. That’s (UP property) a public land. We can just use it or buy it,” he added.
The Lower House is in the Batasan Complex in Quezon City, roughly five kilometers from UP Diliman.
One other suggestion submitted to Drilon’s committee is to utilize the government center in Quezon City---that huge swathe of land bound by EDSA and East Avenue---as the new site of the Senate. The suggestion was not yet considered by the committee.
“Again, we are just reviewing and examining the possible transfer, no decision has been made. It’s in a preliminary stage; we have not gone beyond examining options. Another edifice we’ve examined is the Batasan where the Senate was originally housed, but that’s too small,” Drilon explained.
Yearly rental at GSIS: P110 million
Today, the Philippine Senate is housed at the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) complex, paying P110 million annually as rental.
“We are paying about P110 million annually as rental to the GSIS and this is not really an edifice originally built to house a legislative body,” Drilon said.
Prior to moving to Pasay City in 1997, the Senate was housed in the old Finance Building of the national government in Manila. That structure now houses the National Museum.
The Film Center has had structural problems from the start of its history, having been rushed in time for a film festival during the Marcos era. The Film Center in fact collapsed during construction, leading to charges and legend that some of the workers that died in the accident remained buried in its foundations.