Lacson answers Tiglao on criticism of new P4.5-billion Senate building

June 6, 2018 - 6:25 PM
Sen. Panfilo Lacson has countered criticism of the new Senate building from columnist Rigoberto Tiglao. (Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on accounts, has spoken out against columnist Rigoberto Tiglao for panning the new Senate building expected to rise in For Bonifacio, Taguig in 2021.

Lacson vs. Tiglao

In a statement, Lacson countered the criticism from Tiglao in his Manila Times column .

According to Lacson, Tiglao’s estimate on the construction of the Senate building was wrong. Tiglao gave a figure of P10 billion as the real cost of construction when the official figure was P4.58 billion.

Lacson added that the plan offered by international planning firm AECOM was chosen because theirs was the cheapest among all who submitted proposals.

Tiglao in his column for the Manila Times chastised Lacson for not considering other costs that could come from the project.

He said that the P4.58 billion would only be billed from the skeletal design of the new complex and that there would be unforeseen costs later once construction starts.

Lacson has countered Tiglao’s hypothesis.

“I based my figure on facts; Mr. Tiglao based his on opinion,” said Lacson in his statement.

Lacson further emphasized his defense in a tweet.

While a number of supporters have concurred with Lacson’s defense of the new Senate complex, some continue to question the necessity and practicality of transplanting the country’s upper chamber.

Justification for new building

In 2017, Lacson revealed the P127-million rent paid annually by the Senate for sharing its complex with the Government Service Insurance System in Pasay as one of the mains reasons a new building is needed.

He also spoke of having to make foreign visitors use the “stinky” toilets in the current building.

The choice of Fort Bonifacio as the site of the new Senate complex has been criticized by some.

A survey conducted among Senate employees and officials however revealed that the Taguig site was the preference of stakeholders.

Lacson said the new Senate building will benefit the present congress and future legislators.

Different countries with bicameral legislature have different ways of housing their upper house.

In the United States, the offices of senators are allocated among three separate buildings, the Russell Building, the Dirksen Building, and the Hart Building.

The Dirksen Building, one of the three buildings that house the United States Senate (Photo from US Senate website)

The National Congress of Brazil houses its upper and lower chambers in a single complex.

The complex that houses the upper and lower chambers of the National Congress of Brazil. On the left is the building that houses the Federal Senate and on the right is the portion assigned to the Chamber of Deputies. (Photo by Marcelo Jorge Vieira)

France, on the one hand, has been utilizing the same Senate building since the 17th century.

The Luxembourg Palace built in 1645 to house the mother of Louis XII has stood strong amid numerous political upheavals. It was first converted into a legislative building in 1805.

The Luxembourg Palace, originally built to house members of the aristocracy in the 17th century, has been housing the French Senate of the Fifth Republic since 1958. (Photo by Doanreisskoffer)

Butting heads once more

Tiglao, a former ambassador to Greece and Cyprus, has been involved in a number of spats with public figures.

In April 2018, Vice President Leni Robredo criticized Tiglao for allegedly spreading false information about the Liberal Party’s trip to Europe earlier this year.

Broadcaster Ed Lingao has also spoken out against Tiglao. In a Facebook post from May 2018, Lingao countered Tiglao’s labelling of a number of journalists as “mediocre.”