Palace calls on Congress to shun special treatment


MANILA — Malacañang on Tuesday called on lawmakers to emulate President Rodrigo Duterte and avoid seeking special treatment, following a suggestion from one of the leaders of the House of Representatives that traffic enforcers should give lawmakers “parliamentary immunity” from minor traffic violations when Congress is in session.

“The President himself continues to observe a modest lifestyle and he seeks no special treatment whether inside or outside the Palace. We hope our colleagues in Congress, especially our allies, can bring themselves to do the same,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said during a Palace briefing.

“We hope our colleagues in Congress can also bring themselves to the President’s standards — no special treatments. The law is the law and it should be blind to all,” he added.

On Monday, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said that lawmakers should be immune from minor traffic violations especially when Congress is in session for them to be able to participate in the exercise of legislative mandates.

The House leader made the suggestion after noting that heavy traffic is limiting some of his colleagues from performing their duties.
The veteran Ilocos Norte lawmaker cited a part of the Constitution which provides that “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.”

Fariñas, however, clarified that members of Congress are not immune or privileged from suits or cases, but shall “be privileged from arrest while Congress is in session.”
He said that under House rules, an errant lawmaker may be allowed to proceed to the House of Representatives but will be surrendered to the proper authorities after the session.

“Complainants can, of course, file cases and have them arrested when Congress is not in session,” Fariñas said.