SUBSTANCE

President Duterte’s allies in the Makabayan bloc ask senator trillanes to substantiate his claims even as they kept their distance from talk of a posible impeachment case over the President’s alleged ill gotten wealth.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said, “the onus is on the senator” even as he added that impeachment should not be treated lightly. “di pwede gawing laro laro”

Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao pointed out Trillanes has been raising the issue of the President’s alleged bank accounts even during the campaign but nothing prospered into a case. Casilao however says they will watch what’s going on. “diyan kami nagbabase outside from the political pressure isa pa yan kung kaya ba niya kumuha ng numbers to push forward the impeachment complaint.”

DECIDED

House Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas has raised the possibility of an early vote on the bill reimposing the death penalty at the Lower House following a tense debate over the quorum  during Wednesday’s session.

For Farinas, many members of Congress have already made up their minds on how to vote so the debates are really just to accomodate those who want to speak their minds. “if that is our status now ako po as chairman of the committee on rules we will now force to vote on this measure and we will nwo close the period debates dahil paanong mangyayari sisters broterhs mangyayari po di na ho kami makakpagtransact ng business dhail iququestion po nila yung quorum sila nga ho gusto magadjourn nirecognize ng presiding officer yung susunod na magtatalumpati at meron namang nakikinig dito pero yung iba kasama namin gusto nitigil na dahil kulang nakikinig. yung mga miyembro pwede naman po sila makinig sa kwarto nila at pwede naman nila basahin bukas kung ano nangyari dahil di pa naman nagbobotohan ngayon  every day we have been calling the roll this is unprecedented in any congress. no congress on the record has called the roll every single session day except this congress when we called the roll earlier ilan po ang bilang 202. “

Farinas is now set to call a majority caucus to decide on whether the debates should continue or they should go to a vote already.

“eh puro nung nagumpisa magtalumpati yung gusto magtalumpati eh natabangan po sila di naman po sila natutuwa sa nagdedbeate eh naguwian o pumunta sa mga opisina nila dahil may ginagawa kami po rito nagtitiyaga para mapagbigyan gave a chance and opprotunity for everyone toe xpress their views for or against the matter so mr speaker as the chairman oft he cmte on rules i will now move to adjourn but before that i will now lay on the floor that we will meet in the cmte on rules and if this is the sentiments and ill call a cacucs of the majority and if the majority says enough debates already let us vote on the matter maski gusto ko po kayo pagbigyan kung ayaw na ng nakakarami baka mapilitian po kami itigil ang debate dito at pagbotohan na tutual alam na po yung issues. with that mr speaker i move to adjourn the session.”

as scheduled, the session proceeded with the interpellation on the death penalty bill, with Justice Committee Chair Rey Umali defending and  Rep Lawren Fortun interpellating. after Fortun’s hour was done, he  was supposed to be followed by Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin. However Villarin’s fellow death penalty critic, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman instead moved to adjourn, arguing that there is no longer enough congressmen in the session hall to proceed. “i move that we adjourn because of the absence of a quorum.”

Presiding Officer, Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu and Floor Leader Rimpy Bondoc rebutted him.

Bondoc said, “we object mr. speaker, quorum was established earlier. there is a presumption of quorum business must continue mr speaker. “

Lagman said “a motion to adjourn is not debatable.”

Abu said. ” accordting to the precedence of the ruling of the chair from way back 8th congress, motion to adjourn is not debatable but motion to adjourn needs the approval of the majority of the members of the plenary therefore it is subject for voting. let us now divide the house. “

Lagman  said, “mr speaker before we divide the house we sould first establish a quorum so we could transact business. it is immaterial whether we had a quorum previously  btu presently we do not have a quorum let us call the roll.”

The vote was done viva voce, with the nayes defeating the motion to adjourn.

Lagman said, “im rising on a point of order. according to the rules of the house if the ayes and nayes would be not sufficient to determine the decision of the House i move we divide the House.”

Abu said, ” the spaker hears that the naye is the one that got the votes.”

Lagman, ” i have doubts about the preponderance of the nayes over the ayes thats why under the rules im moving for a division of the House. Mr Speaker id like to ask that the rules be read.”

Abu said, “please cite the rule that had been violated.”

Lagman, “ayes and nayes did not determine the decision of the House in other words we should ascertain whether the House really agreed to continue with the proceedings and under the rules a motion to divide the house is in order.”

Abu said, “the presiding officer heard it that the naye won the division of the House…the speaker is nto doubting the result of the voting. i hear that the nayes has it.”

Lagman argued they can also move for nominal voting, invoking section 116.

Bondoc objected. Buhay Party List Rep. Lito Atienza tried to intervene.

Bondoc said, ” there are preceding conditions to sec 116 you read them under sec 115…as youve stated youre not in doubt of the result therefore there is no need for nominal voting.”

Lagman said sec 116 is not dependent on sec 115.

Atienza asked to join the discussion. Abu insisted on recognizing Villarin for his interpellation. 

Atienza said the interpretation is flawed. “nominal voting is a right of members of this congress.”

Abu said, “napakaliwanag po ng ating regulasyon. gagawin lang po natin yan pag duda ang speaker sa resulta ng botohan.”

Atienza said, ” maliwanag din ho ang binabasa ko eh…we are appealing to your sense of parliamentary appreciation. “

A recess was called amid the increasingly tense discussion. The congressmen then huddled. when the recess ended, that was when Farinas gave his warning. 

“the parliamentary status is we are in the period of sponsorship and debates on a very important measure they have listed so many interpellators we would want to accomodate all of them and we have been very accomodating in fact we have been bending the rules para po yung mga nasa gallery mga sisters sisters good evening po pumunta po sila rito para makinig ng debate kaya yung mga nandito nagtityaga maski po hindi na sila interesado dahil alam na nila yung boto nila para po sa for the sake of thsoe who want debates kaya ho we are having debates but our colleagues gusto po nila pag nagsalita sila dapat may nakikinig sa kanila na 51% of the members it is the right of a member to listen to debates or not nobody can force them to listen to the debates pag magaling yung speaker at maganda yung argument niya eh puno ito eh pero kung siansabi niya di naman interesting o paulit ulit di pwede pilitin ang member epro kami po sa rules nagtitiyaga para sa inyo na gusto mag interpellate kasi nakakarami po dito angpalista lang eh 50  eh 293 po kami dito yung 200 mahigit di na gusto magdebate para ito mapagbotohan na now because they want to speak we are accomodating them to speak but when they speak they demand that at least 51% should be present here to speak  eh hindi na ho namin prublema yun kung walang gustong makinig sa inyo”

Critics of the death penalty had repeatedly raised the matter of quorum as a way to abbreviate plenary sessions and forestall the deliberations on the bill. The leadership has set March 8 and 15 as dates for voting on 2nd and 3rd reading. Speaker Alvarez had previously slammed the use of dilatory tactics by critics of the bill.

The following is what the House rules say on closing a debate and proceeding to a vote.

“Section 54. Motion to Close Debate. – A motion to close the debate on a measure shall be in order after three (3) speeches in favor and two (2) against, or after only one (1) speech in favor and none against: Provided, That within the last fifteen (15) days before adjournment, a motion to close debate on a measure shall be in order after two (2) speeches in favor and one (1) against, or after only one (1) speech in favor and none against.

Section 55. Cloture. – When a matter under consideration has been sufficiently discussed by a Member who has the floor and there are several Members who have signified their intention to speak on the same matter, the Speaker may, motu proprio or upon motion of a Member, order the Member having the floor to desist from speaking further so that other Members may be given the opportunity to speak. 

Villarin would have been the 6th interpellator after Lagman, Cebu Rep. Raul del Mar, Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque, Rep. Rav Rocamora and Fortun.

Once debates are closed, the bill go through a period of amendments before it is voted upon on 2nd reading. 3 days later, it will be calendared for a vote on 3rd reading.