Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto is the principal author of recently-signed law providing free college education in the country and Sen. Bam Aquino is the principal sponsor in the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III has set the record straight on who should get credit for initiating the Free Tertiary Education Act amid heated debates on social media on credit grabbing among senators on the widely-cheered legislation.
“(The) principal sponsor sponsor is (Sen.) Bam (Aquino) because he was the one who reported it out (on the floor) and started the defense (to steer the passage of the bill). (Sen. Francis) Chiz (Escudero) is the co-sponsor,” Sotto said.
“But the principal author is Ralph (Recto) or the first one who files the bill on subject and the others are co-authors,” said Sotto.
“The one who presents and defends the bill on the floor is the principal sponsor. All other presenters are co-sponsors. Take it from me, I’m the longest sitting and most experienced member. (And) rules (committee) chair three times,” he added.
Records of the Senate showed that Recto was the first to introduce the bill in June 30, 2016 and it was followed by Aquino and several other senators.
Aquino was the chair of the Senate committee on education, arts and culture when pending bills on the said measure were deliberated upon in the committee until the submission of its report or until second reading in the Senate.
It was Escudero, however, who shepherded the bill up to its approval after he replaced Aquino as education committee chair. Aquino was kicked out after he and three party mates from the Liberal Party (LP) as well as their ally, Sen. Risa Hontiveros were booted out of the majority bloc and stripped of their panel chairmanships early this year.
Sotto said the “role” played by either Escudero and Aquino, as committee chair, does not really matter as there had been numerous instances in the past where committee chairmen asked other senators to sponsor their report.
Sotto emphasized, however, neither Recto or Aquino could claim that they single-handedly managed to have the bill approved in the upper chamber as a number of senators supported its passage.
“It’s Congress that passed it, not a single lawmaker,” he said.