Congress renovates lounge to suit diet of senior lawmakers

For the second time in as many years, the House of Representatives is expanding the area of its members' lounge at the 16-hectare Batasan Pambansa complex in suburban Quezon City.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. kicked off last week the construction of a P55-million (S$1.6 million), three-storey structure to increase the north wing lounge, only a year after the sprucing up of the south wing lounge.

Almost a hundred construction workers have been deployed for the construction work which is targeted for completion within 26 days, or just in time for President Benigno Aquino's state of the nation address on July 30.

House Secretary General Marilyn B. Yap said the project was meant to "address the space requirements of members and the House." The House currently has 285 members.

She declined to reveal how much was being allocated for the construction or why the building was being rushed, which would entail higher costs.

In 2011, Belmonte approved the expansion and renovation of the south wing lounge basically on the same premise-to cater to the demand of its expanding membership for more private dining quarters and a bigger kitchen to serve "healthier" meals, especially to senior members.

During a budget interpellation in October 2010, Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said: "Our south lounge where we normally have our snacks was designed during the time of the conceptualization of the Batasang Pambansa, and the number of members has grown already. I would like to suggest that we expand the south lounge to [turn it into] a more livable space. As it is now, it's like we are in a public market. We need to come up with something like the lounge in the Senate where the senators have privacy. Of course, there are fewer of them-24 as against us, which is 200 something."

Suarez said House members should also be given the option to make special requests to the kitchen crew to fit their diet.

"I am not trying to be choosy but the reason is more on the diet. We are already taking risks if we take fatty foods," said Suarez.

Become a fan on Facebook