Some senators want to put a stop to the use of offensive language on the Senate floor.
What? And deny the public the entertainment that they expected from their lawmakers? I say, let senators speak to show their natural self. That way, the voters will realize the kind of lawmakers they have sent to the chamber. Who knows, this might waken them up and be more discerning the next time around.
With speeches characterized by un-parliamentary words, the lawmakers might be creating a noose with which to hang themselves. But what if the same senators will get reelected?
Why, this only means that the people approve of their conduct. They get the public officials that they deserve.
These senators said that the word war between Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile is creating a negative image of the Senate.
They must have been asleep all along when JPE called then Senate Minority Leader Nene Pimentel a coward, a hypocrite and a traitor in 2009. And how about the numerous times when a lady senator used words such as “gago” “ginagago” and “walang hiya” on the floor and humiliated guests in public hearings with abusive words?
Name-calling par for the course
The Senate, just like the House, has had a rule against un-parliamentary remarks in its proceedings. However, this rule has been violated a number of times without any action being taken against the offender. The Senate President has the power to stop any member from speaking offensively against another but this has never been used. They must have shrugged off name-calling between senators as par for the course.
Sen. Vicente “Tito Sen” Sotto 3rd correctly noted that worse exchanges had happened before but they didn’t create a furor similar to that between Senator Miriam and JPE “because there was no social media then.”
Senator Miriam said that she would charge JPE before the Senate Committee on Ethics for allegedly violating Senate Rule 34 Section 94 which states: “No senator under any circumstances shall use offensive or improper language against another senator or against any public institution.” She may have grounds for charging JPE who said in defending himself of her charge that he was the “mastermind” of the alleged PDAF scandal: “Mr. President, only an inane and bitterly hostile mind could fabricate such a canard. Again, all I can say is that this is an outright lie and this is just another of those baseless fabrications against me from a depraved mind.”
Yes, she might have grounds but she doesn’t enjoy any moral ascendancy because her own speech against JPE was even more un-parliamentary.
She described JPE as “an incorrigible liar, drama king of corrupt politics, prince of darkness, Mr. Dementia and psychopathic hypersexualized serial womanizer.
“Enrile, with his eternal philandering and unexplained wealth desperately needs a shrink as a mental health measure,” she also said.
Oh yes, in her speech, she quoted a US Embassy cable sent by former US Ambassador Kristie Kenney as saying JPE “presided at a Senate hearing and indulged himself by repeatedly and fiercely shouting at representatives of the Joint Foreign Chamber of Commerce because the foreign businessmen had complained about smuggling in Port Irene.” I covered that hearing and JPE did raise his voice but he didn’t preside over it.
Sen. Chiz Escudero, then chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means did.
When JPE because Senate President, he placed Sen. Ping Lacson as head of the Ways and Means. For whatever reason, Ping didn’t pursue Chiz’s inquiry into the alleged smuggling in Port Irene. I asked Chiz later if he had regretted looking into the issue, he replied “No comment.”
Effacing offensive words
Going back to the word war between JPE and Senator Miriam, some senators said they would move to expunge from the record all un-parliamentary remarks made by the two. To do so, they must identify the offensive words that they want to expunge off the record. This means that even if the offensive words are deleted from the speech, those words remain in the journal just the same because they have to be identified in the motion.
This is the portion of Senator Miriam’s privileged speech that I like best: “I hope that this clash of titans in the Senate will lead to an Armageddon in Philippine politics.”
“Armageddon” refers to the Biblical battle between good and evil predicted to mark the end of the world and precede the Day of Judgment.
If word wars will result in the ultimate victory of good over evil on Election Day, then by all means keep them—but don’t let them turn into physical violence.