'Bato' reports to Senate in the flesh after 'good life' gaffe

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 01 2020 04:14 PM | Updated as of Jun 02 2020 12:12 AM

Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa delivers two sponsorship speeches in the plenary a week after he was criticized for saying that senators have a "good life" because they were allowed to do their work via teleconferencing, June 1, 2020. Screen capture from Senate of the Philippines' official video stream.

MANILA - Senator Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, who was criticized last week for likening virtual meetings to the "good life," attended Monday's session in person.

The burly former national police chief delivered a sponsorship speech for a bill that seeks to increase the recruitment of women into the government's police force.

"Let us take this opportunity of the presence of Sen. Dela Rosa," Senate President Vicente Sotto III told senators before recognizing Dela Rosa for his sponsorship speech for Senate Bill 1562, titled "An Act Increasing the Recruitment Quota Requirement of PNP Female Officers, Amending Section 58 of Republic Act 8551."

Sotto told Dela Rosa last week to attend sessions physically after the former law enforcer said doing his duties via video conferencing was like living the "good life (sarap ng buhay)."

"What he meant was masarap ang buhay na magserbisyo sa bayan (it is a good life when you can be of service)," Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said as he called Dela Rosa to deliver his speech.

"Pahirapan mo siya ngayon (Give him a hard time)," Sotto told Zubiri in jest.

After his first speech, Dela Rosa proceeded to deliver another sponsorship statement for another bill that seeks to reduce the height requirement for Philippine National Police applicants.

"Double time siya ngayon, Mr. President," Zubiri said.

"The chairman of the Committee on Public Order, you work double time," Sotto said.

"Thank you, Mr. President. Quota na ako, Mr. President," Dela Rosa replied.

When asked about the ribbing during session, Dela Rosa said: "They just simply miss my physical presence on the floor, that is why they allowed me to deliver two sponsorship speeches," he said.

Dela Rosa had told ABS-CBN News that he made the remark because he felt Senate sessions were more efficient when done via online conferencing. 

"Kaya nasabi kong ang sarap ng buhay kasi mas mabilis ang talakayan ng bills kapag naka-Webex kami at mas maaga matapos ang session. Sa tingin ko, mas efficient ang session via Webex basta maganda lang ang wifi signal ng attendees," he said when reached by text. 

(The reason I said life is good is because the discussion of bills was faster with Webex and we finish earlier. I think sessions via Webex are more efficient as long as the WiFi signal of attendees is good.)

The Senate shifted to hybrid sessions -- where some members are physically at the session hall in Pasay City and others attend virtually from their homes -- to observe physical distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.