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There should be no quorum problem this year



e-cartoon-sep-14-2018Candidates for 12 Senate seats, the entire membership of the House of Representatives, provincial governors, vice governors, and board members, and town and city mayors, vice mayors, and councils will file their certificates of candidacy this October to run in the midterm election on May 13, 2019.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) had already set the filing for October 1-5, but Congress asked the commission to move it to a later period so it would not coincide with the closing days of the current 17th Congress, lest too many lawmakers absent themselves to attend to this initial step in their all-important candidacies.

The members of the House of Representatives must file their certificates in their own districts in the provinces. Once they are back in their home grounds, they are likely to find themselves swamped with meetings and other matters related to the election. They might choose to attend to these matters rather than fly back to Metro Manila for the closing days of Congress.
In the previous Congress – the 16th – the House found itself plagued with a quorum problem, but that one was believed related to many congressmen refusing to go along with the Aquino administration effort to approve the Bangsamoro bill of that time. The Bangsamoro cause was then bereft of public support, partly because of the Mamasapano massacre in which 44 Special Action Force men were killed by Moro forces in Maguindanao. It has taken the new administration of President Duterte to revive the Bangsamoro cause and have it enacted just recently.

This time, there is no such controversial bill to cause congressmen to avoid congressional sessions. But there are so many pending bills that the lawmakers must enact before Congress adjourns on October 12. Thus the House, on motion of Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, adopted a resolution asking the Comelec to reset the filing of candidacy to October 11-17 and the Senate quickly concurred. Within days, the Comelec moved the filing period.

The P3.757-trillion General Appropriations Act for 2019 is the most important bill that must be passed into law before the year ends. A law creating the Department of Disaster Resiliency is another. The House has asked the National Price Coordinating Council to report on steps it has taken to cushion the impact of rising prices; it might want to take some action of its own in the face of this inexorably growing problem of the country.

There should, therefore, be no quorum problem in these final days of the 17th Congress this year. The candidates will have all the time to attend to their election needs, hoping to be part of the next – the 18th – Congress which, among the many tasks it faces, will likely be the one that will meet as a Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution for the country.

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