Tuesday, February 2, 2010

JPE calls for conscience vote on C-5 deal report


Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he received instructions from Enrile over the weekend to schedule the voting for Committee Report 780.

The report recommends the censure of Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. and directs him to return P6.2 billion, which the government supposedly lost when roads were diverted to pass through his real estate properties in Las Piñas and Parañaque for the C-5 Road extension project. Villar has denied irregularities in the deal.

“First, (Enrile) instructed me to schedule the debates and final voting of the Committee Report by Wednesday. And second, he sent a blast text message to all majority members that this is a conscience vote and he will not bind the members of the majority to vote either in favor or against it. It’s up to us as to what we have seen in the evidence in the committee report,” Zubiri told dzBB radio yesterday.

Zubiri said that the Senate will also prioritize the passage of bills on second and third reading before it sets the debates on the committee report so as not to take so much time on arguments that border on personal insults as what happened last week after Enrile read out his report before the plenary.

The majority leader noted that the Committee Report is a very divisive issue, which is why he suggested that the Senate pass the pending local bills as well as those already in the bicameral level and second and third levels to avoid derailing the passage of important legislation.

Although minority leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. agrees with the need to prioritize legislative agendas, he reiterated the need for the senators to put the Committee Report under interpellation to scrutinize its details.

He said the Senate could again be divided if the majority immediately puts the issue to a vote.
But the minority leader admits that they cannot do anything because they are at the behest of the majority.

Pimentel also questioned why Sen. Jamby Madrigal, the complainant in the ethics case against Villar, was scheduled to be the first interpellator. The minority group finds this unfair, he said.
Aside from other contentious issues, the majority and the minority are also clashing over the number of votes needed to implement the recommendation of the Enrile-led Committee of the Whole, which tackled the ethics complaint against Villar.

Divergent legal opinions

Aside from other contentious issues, the majority and the minority are also clashing over the number of votes needed to implement the recommendation of the Enrile-led Committee of the Whole, which tackled the ethics complaint against Villar.

The majority believes that a simple majority of the 23 total senators or 12 votes are needed, according to Zubiri. But Pimentel and the other Villar allies, Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Miriam Defensor Santiago and Joker Arroyo, believe that the committee report should get two-thirds or 16 votes before it is implemented because the report deals with the disciplinary action against a fellow senator.

Both the majority and the minority senators saw a gray area in the Constitution, which only provided a provision of two-thirds vote needed before a senator is suspended or dismissed.
However, the Enrile report only recommended a censure or reprimand, which is not covered by the law.

A resolution initially signed by 12 senators is also pending for plenary debates, supposedly side by side with Committee Report 780.

Twelve senators, including Villar, signed the resolution, but two signatories, Jinggoy Estrada and Francis Pangilinan, decided to withdraw their signatures, tilting the balance to the majority.

“We have a fundamental question on how many votes are needed to censure. There is the group of Senators Pimentel and Santiago who said that 16 votes are needed. There is another group led by Enrile, and myself included, that believe 12 votes or a simple majority is needed. This is not suspension or removal from the office as senator. This is just a censure,” Zubiri said.
The majority leader, however, believes that the issue will have to be decided in the end through numbers.

Conscience vote

Sen. Loren Legarda, Villar’s running mate, vowed that she would “vote according to her conscience” once the senators present would put the issue to a vote.

In a clear indication that she would stand by her running mate, Legarda reiterated that the Senate as an institution should not be used as an instrument to judge a colleague.
“I am prepared to vote according to my conscience, according to the evidence presented, according to what I think is right. The others should not use the party stand to judge other people,” she said, adding that there should be a closure to the C-5 controversy and senators should make their stand very clear.

Legarda also echoed the statements of Zubiri and Pimentel that the Senate priority should be the passage of pending important bills, especially since there are only several days left in the current session.

She also warned against a possible failure of elections if the Comelec is unable to get its act together in preparation for the May political exercise.

Via: http://lorenlegarda.com.ph/news_106_JPE%20calls_for_conscience%20_vote_on_C-5_deal_report.php

1 comment:

  1. ano pa ba kc gusto ni enrile kay sen. manny eh sumagot n nga ung tao sa mga tinatnong nila at according to him lhat ng mga bgay na meron xa ngayon eh tlgang pinghirapan at pingtrabahuhan nya dahil alm nya kung anong pkiramdam ng isang mhrap dahil nga dun xa galing