Enrile to peers: Why don’t you work for a change?By Cathy Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Apparently tired of being made the scapegoat for the nonpassage of certain priority measures, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has turned to his colleagues and asked that they spend more time inside the session hall instead of disappearing the moment their attendance is recorded at roll call.
Enrile said floor debates would go much faster and the approval of bills swifter if only the senators stayed in their seats until the end of each session.
The matter of attendance at the Senate had been brought up previously after some members admitted they were not aware of what went on during the debate and subsequent approval of the Cybercrime Prevention Act, which drew plenty of flak.
Asked in an interview about the chances of the sin tax bill and the 2013 national budget bill of P2 trillion being passed soon, Enrile said: “It is possible if the senators don’t go gallivanting around (walang mga namamasyal), isn’t it?”
So many excuses
He said several senators showed up only for the roll call and then left for various reasons.
“Some say they have official business waiting outside the building. Others claim they are sick. There are so many reasons,” he said.
Enrile said that when the debate heats up anew on the floor over the sin tax bill, anyone who is against the measure could raise his hand and question whether there is a quorum.
“What follows inside the session hall then when there is none?” he said.
He said much of the work in the next few weeks would rely on the attendance of all the senators, especially since the sin tax bill appears to be the next divisive issue after the reproductive health bill and the one carving a new province out of Camarines Sur.
The Senate President said the upper chamber’s members were “not my employees” and they should realize it is their job to attend the sessions.
“But look at some of them. I’m not saying all but there are those who claim they have business elsewhere, they would rather talk outside than inside the session hall… I cannot order a lock-down of the session hall to prevent them from leaving. Otherwise someone might again make a remark about martial law and Enrile,” he said.