MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva was urged to stay on topic when discussing issues between the House of Representatives and the Senate and to avoid being arrogant – after allegedly belittling district and party-list lawmakers for obtain fewer votes than senators.

In his privilege speech during Monday's session, Lanao del Sur 1st District Rep. Zia Alonto Adiong reiterated that members of the 19th Congress are equal – as the 1987 Constitution makes no distinction between members of the Senate or the Chamber.

“I would like to address Senator Villanueva's careless comments defaming our party-list representatives and by extension the House of Representatives […] With all due respect to Senator Villanueva, he has seriously misrepresented the nature of the two houses that make up Congress,” Adiong said.

“The 1987 Constitution grants legislative power to a Congress, Iisang Kongreso, shared between the House of Representatives and the Senate,” he added.

Instead of making statements that go against interparliamentary courtesy, Adiong said Villanueva should focus on the issue at hand – proposals to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution – and refrain from issuing insults.

“Our disagreements must be channeled constructively, promoting an environment where the best ideas reach the top. A divided house weakens our ability to respond effectively to the challenges facing our country, hindering progress and hindering the realization of our shared vision for a better Philippines,” Adiong said.

“All of us members of Congress are in public service. If we have a misunderstanding, let’s focus on the matter, let’s not address it with arrogant words,” he added.

(We are all members of Congress who are in public service. If we have disagreements, let us focus on the issue; we must not resort to arrogant statements.)

Adiong was referring to Villanueva’s speech on the Senate floor, where he said that people “cannot say that a representative of the party list is equal to a senator (we cannot say that a party list is equal to a senator)”.

“We cannot say that a party-list deputy is the same as a senator, ever. How many votes does the shortest senator get today, Mr. President, 15 million votes, Mr. President. Batanes, for example, 6,000 (a) 7,000 votes, are you a congressman?” Villanueva said.

“We cannot say that a party-list deputy is the same as a senator, ever. How many votes did the last senator get now, Mr. President, 15 million votes? Batanes, for example, 6,000 (a) 7,000 votes only, are you a congressman?)

“I have nothing against Congress again, Mr. President. But can you really compare apples to oranges? Mr President, it is also ridiculous, but for me the most insulting thing is the fact that when our people asked to vote for our senators, they are aware of what they are voting for, po ito national leaders, national leaders, hindi pang-district, Hindi pang (not for districts, not for) party-list representative. And now, what will happen? Are we talking about disenfranchising our voters now?” he added.

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Adiong, however, disagreed with Villanueva's views, saying that although the Philippine Congress is bicameral in nature and has different responsibilities, it was never mentioned that one house has a greater role or mandate.