(UPDATE 3 – 10:14 p.m.) MANILA – Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas has drawn flak from netizens for seeking special treatment from the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for lawmakers if they commit traffic violations.
“‘Pag nagpakilalang congressman, ‘wag dalhin sa presinto kasi hindi na siya makakapag-perform ng kanyang functions (If they introduce themselves as congressmen, don’t bring them to the station because they won’t be able to perform their functions),” Fariñas said during a hearing on Monday about the possible traffic solutions given the upcoming holiday season.
“Halimbawa, eh nakasagasa. Nasugatan ‘yung tao. ‘Pag nagpakilalang congressman ‘yan, eh ‘di saka na huhulihin. Ang aming rules po, ‘pag natapos ang session, isu-surrender ni Speaker ‘yung member sa inyo (For example, he ran over and injured someone. If he introduces himself as a congressman, he shouldn’t be arrested immediately. Our rules state that as soon as the session ends, the Speaker will surrender him to you),” he said.
Fariñas argued that immunity from suit was in the Constitution, particularly for presidents, and this was why lawmakers were seeking the same privileges especially when it came to traffic rules.
“Kayo lang ba ang may kailangang i-perform na function (Are you the only ones who need to perform their functions)?” tweeted @md_mrab in reply. “Lawmakers are above the law!
Ibang-iba na mga politiko ngayon (Politicians today are truly a different breed). What a transition from no wang-wang (sirens) to immunity!”
“The height of arrogance and entitlement,” commented Twitter user @bibmacasaet.
@jamiecrux_13 said the lawmaker’s statement reeked of “privilege,” adding, “No, Cong. Fariñas, ambulances and firefighters lang ang hindi dapat ino-obstruct sa traffic (only ambulances and firefighters should not be obstructed during traffic).”
@Harperblammo had this suggestion: “Sa Batasang Pambansa ka na tumira kung gusto mo makaiwas sa traffic violations (You should live at the House of Representatives if you want to avoid traffic violations).”
“The law is hard but it is the law, sir,” @celalmo pointed out.
“No one is above the law,” @sallypernito added.
Meanwhile, @delmarancheta berated Fariñas. “Porke’t may pwesto sa gobyerno, may immunity? ‘Wag ganun, manong, ‘wag makapal face (Just because you have a government position, you want immunity? Don’t be like that sir, don’t be thick-faced)!”
@AngBrianKo put it simply: “Your House of Representatives, folks.”
Fariñas responds to critics: Read Charter
Fariñas gave a terse explanation of his position through Viber: “Please read Section 11, Article VI of the Constitution. It’s called Parliamentary Immunity that is universally accepted.”
The provision in question: SECTION 11. A Senator or Member of the House of Representatives shall, in all offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment, be privileged from arrest while the Congress is in session. No Member shall be questioned nor be held liable in any other place for any speech or debate in the Congress or in any committee thereof.
He was asked by a House reporter how lawmakers can be prevented from tending to abuse their perks, and if he can qualify the phrase, “while the Congress is in session.”
Fariñas replied: “Do not vote for them as members of Congress. Complainants can, of course, file cases and have them arrested when Congress is not in session. Members of Congress are not immune or privileged from suits or cases, but shall “be privileged from arrest while the Congress is in session.”
Neither can they be questioned nor be held liable in any other place for any speech or debate in the Congress or in any committee thereof, he added.
Click and watch the video report here: