Lacson questions report recommending filing of Dengvaxia charges vs Aquino
A committee report recommending the filing of charges against former President Benigno Aquino III and his officials over the Dengvaxia controversy hit a bump when it was read on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
Committee Report No. 368 was filed for plenary discussion on April 30 by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Senator Richard Gordon, jointly with the committees on health and demography and finance.
But Senator Panfilo Lacson, who did not sign the report, took the floor and raised a couple of questions regarding the number of signatures obtained for the report.
“On its face, out of the 22 members of the three committees, 14 signed the report,” Lacson said. “However, upon the perusal of the report, particularly its signature page and its various attachments, this representation noticed that some members of the three committees signed the report with concurring and dissenting votes.”
“In addition, Mr. President, some senators signed with reservations, while Senators Drilon and de Lima, joined by their colleagues in the minority, filed their separate dissenting opinions. Others, or at least this representation, did not sign,” he continued, referring to Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and detained Senator Leila de Lima, also an opposition member.
Lacson asked whether those who signed with concurring and dissenting opinions and those with reservations should be counted in determining the majority.
“The second issue, Mr. President, is in cases where several committees are conducting inquiry in aid of legislation involving certain issues, assuming that the primary committee prepares the report: Is the majority requirement for purposes of filing and consideration by the Senate on a per committee-basis or all the members of the different committees lumped together?” he asked again.
He added that the Blue Ribbon Committee has 20 members while the health and finance panels have 14 and 20 members, respectively.
Lacson noted that under Section 22 of the Rules of Procedures Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation, the report should be approved by a majority vote of all its members.
“Concurring and dissenting reports may likewise be made by the members who do not sign the majority report within 72 hours from the approval of the report. The number of members who sign reports concurring in the conclusions of the Committee Report shall be taken into account in determining whether the report has been approved by a majority of the members,” he said, quoting the said provision.
“Provided, and I’d like to highlight, that the vote of a member who submits both a concurring and dissenting opinion shall not be considered as part of the majority unless he expressly indicates his vote for the majority decision,” he added.
In view of the said provision, Lacson then asked the chamber “whether the required majority was obtained for us to consider Committee Report No. 368.”
Instead of seeking an immediate answer from the chamber, Lacson moved that the report be referred to the Senate Committee on Rules for discussion and resolution.
No senator present on the floor objected to Lacson’s motion. /ee
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