Senate urged: Strike from record Enrile, Santiago speeches

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

MANILA -- At least two senators said Thursday that they will exert all effort to make sure that the "unparliamentary words" used by their warring colleagues, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Miriam Defensor Santiago, will be stricken out from the Senate records.

Both Senators Sergio Osmeña III and Vicente Sotto III insisted on the need to remove from the records the speeches of Enrile and Santiago.

Osmeña explained that he has nothing against Santiago and Enrile but what he is concerned of is the dignity of the Philippine Senate as an institution.

He admitted that the wrangling on the floor is indeed a waste of time for the Senate but said this is part of a democratic system.

Osmeña noted that he is still worried this will create a negative impact for the image of the Senate.

He said the possibility of other people and other legislators reading this transcript 20 years from now should be considered.

Osmeña said the issues raised by Santiago against Enrile dating back during the Martial Law years are no longer relevant.

"The image of the Senate is at stake, especially if this does not help us in our main job as legislators. They can hold a press conference in one of the rooms here in the Senate and they can have the same publicity anyway. This should not be practiced so openly often," he said.

Sotto said he is studying the possibility of striking out from Senate records the entirety or parts of Enrile and Santiago speeches.

The senator said similar incidents happened in the Senate in the past "but there was no use of unparliamentary words."

On Monday, Sotto said he will make a motion on the Senate floor on striking out his colleagues' speeches.

Both Enrile and Santiago delivered strongly-worded privilege speeches during Senate sessions. Both speeches contain professional and personal attacks, including issues on mental state and extramarital affairs.

Santiago called Enrile a "mastermind of plunder," "the king of smuggling, gambling and illegal logging empires" and a "hypersexualized serial womanizer." [See full text of Santiago's speech.]

Enrile, who delivered a speech a week ago, tagged Miriam as "obsessive hater, a cuckoo, an insane, bitterly hostile mind." [READ: Enrile skirts PDAF issue, hits goddaughter Santiago]

Santiago's speech was in response to Enrile's speech last week.

Under Senate rules, "acts and languages which offend a senator or any public institution shall be deemed unparliamentary." The rules prohibit senators from using such language against his or her colleague.

The rules state that a senator using unparliamentary language may be called to order by fellow senators, and may even be the subject of an ethics case.

These rules, however, are not clear about the mechanics on how to strike out specific unparliamentary words uttered by a senator on the Senate floor.

Sotto also said he will push for the immediate formation of the Senate ethics committee to look into any violation against parliamentary rules in Santiago and Enrile's speeches.

The Senate has also become lenient with its internal laws, Sotto said.

Meanwhile, Senate President Franklin Drilon appealed for a "ceasefire" as he expressed hopes that both senators as Christian will consider the Christmas season to have a ceasefire.

"I am saddened by what happened. Maybe, now that they have ventilated their anger, maybe after a little while, we can appeal to both to have a ceasefire," Drilon said in a radio interview.

Drilon said he is hoping that a cooling off period will help them both.

This kind of mudslinging, Drilon said, is not helping the Senate, especially now that the country is suffering from the wrath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and those affected need extra help instead of political bickering. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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