Editorial: Arrogant, abusive senators

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

AFTER an exchange by Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile and Miriam Defensor-Santiago of “offensive” privilege

speeches, some senators have either rediscovered the concept of right and wrong or have gathered the courage to criticize the questionable acts of their colleagues.

Santiago delivered her privilege speech against Enrile last Wednesday, using Miriam-like scathing words. Enrile delivered last week a privilege speech that partly ridiculed Santiago, who had accused her of being the mastermind of the pork barrel scam involving Janet Lim-Napoles.

Senators like Sergio Osmeña III and Vicente Sotto III considered as un-parliamentary the use by Santiago and Enrile of offensive and scathing words and are talking about moving to have the privilege speeches or portions of it stricken off Senate records.

Sotto, in a recent TV report noted: "Baka this is the good side to what happened between the two. Baka, mapilitan kaming paigtingin, pahigpitan ang aming pagpapatupad ng aming mga rules ng Senate.

As they say, better late than never.

Senate President Franklin Drilon or the other colleagues of Enrile and Santiago could have pointed the un-parliamentary acts immediately after they were made. Had Enrile, for example, been admonished earlier for ridiculing Santiago, that would have served as notice for Santiago herself when she composed her scathing speech against Enrile.

But one can also consider this episode as the worst manifestation of the continuing deterioration in the manner the Senate has been conducting its affairs the past several years.

Scathing remarks and insults have reverberated in Senate halls often, especially when hearings are covered live on TV. That’s when some senators turn arrogant and abusive on so-called resource persons. It was only a matter of time when the arrogant and abusive behavior would be directed by senators at their own colleagues.

And if one goes deeper into the matter, one can even consider this deterioration as a reflection of the quality of the senators that the people voted into office. If the whole is the sum of its parts, then the Senate can only be as good as the individual senators composing it.

Or it can only be as bad.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 06, 2013.


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