A senior politician has asked traffic cops to excuse lawmakers if they commit traffic violations such as hitting and injuring a pedestrian.
Speaking today (Monday, September 18) House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said members of congress should not be delayed when trying to get to work.
During a hearing of the House committee on transportation, Fariñas said being stopped during their morning commute prevented officials from performing their legislative duties.
Citing parliamentary immunity, he aimed his words at the Department of Transportation (DOTR) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
Politician to traffic cops: Don’t make us late
“If he introduces himself as a congressman, and proves he is one, don’t bring him to the precinct,” he said. “Because if you bring him to the precinct, he won’t be able to perform his functions.
“For example, his car hits a person, and the person is injured. If he introduces himself as a congressman, then arrest him later.”
He said Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez would then surrender the violator to the relevant authorities after the session had ended.
“Our rule here is, when the session ends, the speaker of the House will surrender the member to you.”
Under Article IV Section 11 of the Philippine Constitution, a senator or a member of the House of Representatives is entitled to immunity from arrest when session is ongoing.
The relevant article states: “A Senator or Member of the House of Representatives shall, in all offenses punishable by not more than 6 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 Congress or in any committee thereof.”
Fariñas implied this immunity should apply even if the violation happened prior to the opening of a session. “If the representative says he has to catch an important matter in Congress, you will see that anyway,” he said. “Assist him so we can accomplish our tasks.”