Lawmaker mulls raps vs protesting colleagues
Displeased by the stunt pulled by party-list representatives during President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday, an administration lawmaker wants to file an ethics complaint against them for “unparliamentary behavior.”
“The act was totally outside accepted legislative behavior that warrants an investigation by the ethics committee,” said Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo of the ruling Liberal Party.
He was referring to the unfurling of banners and chanting of slogans by members of the leftist Makabayan bloc, who included Representatives Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela and Terry Ridon of Kabataan.
Their actions prompted Senate President Franklin Drilon to boo loudly into the microphone, and other lawmakers to clap louder for Mr. Aquino.
The booing was initially thought by some to have been directed at the President.
Bound by rules
“Their pattern of action should be looked into to avoid a recurrence in the future,” Castelo said.
Oddly enough, a few hours before the Sona, Castelo was photographed raising his right fist, along with the Makabayan lawmakers, in a post on Twitter by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares.
Castelo said he respected the right of the lawmakers to express their grievances.
“But there are other ways to do it without resorting to unparliamentary behavior,” he said. ‘’They could have joined the ralliers outside, called a press conference or even delivered a privilege speech.”
“They are members of Congress and they should be bound by the rules of the institution they belong to,” Castelo said.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio, one of the lawmakers who unfurled small banners, said the protest was warranted because of their dissatisfaction with Mr. Aquino’s Sona, which he said misrepresented government data, especially in the education sector.
He said the Makabayan lawmakers simply held up their placards but stayed in their seats.
“Then immediately the PSG (Presidential Security Group) confronted us,” Tinio said. “One general grabbed my placard but we continued to assert ourselves, especially since this was Congress and we had the right.”
“Eventually, the majority leader (Neptali Gonzales II) talked to the PSG and they left.”
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. told reporters the booing was to express to the President the collective embarrassment of Congress over the actions of some members.
One of those incidents
“That booing was to boo the small group for embarrassing the Congress before the President. That booing was us saying that we were not part of that and we did not want that,” Belmonte said.
But he said the protest action was still the privilege of the lawmakers. “Anyway, the President saw that nobody was supporting it. Everybody was, in fact, embarrassed by it,” he said.
Belmonte said the ethics committee might “do something about it” once a complaint is filed. “For me, it was just one of those incidents,” he said.
Belmonte said he did not think Mr. Aquino was slighted by the action of the lawmakers. “He barely noticed them,” he said.
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