It was an otherwise expected Monday at the Senate, televised live for all of the world to see, with Senator Alan Peter Cayetano again being given the “privilege” to speak about things he had already spoken about at last week’s Committee on Justice Hearing with witness Matobato.
It was Senator Leila De Lima who had brought this witness to the Senate, who really only reminded us all of the Davao Death Squad and how (1) it does exist, and (2) it had connections with then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in Davao. That this witness was in an inquiry on the PRESENT extrajudicial killings, with Senator De Lima not even really drawing clear connections between then and now, Davao and Manila, Mayor Duterte and President Duterte, might have been her own undoing.
Today, there was a coup in the Senate, and while Senator De Lima was its object and subject, the star of the show was Senator Manny Pacquiao — boxer, ex-congressman with the most number of absences, and newbie senator.
After Senator Cayetano’s speech, where he declared that Senator De Lima, “in her desire to destroy the President is destroying the integrity and reputation of the Senate. Worse, damaging the image of the country and the people worldwide,” Senator Pacquiao stood up and moved to declare the Committee on Justice chairperson seat vacant — pretty much asserting that De Lima should be ousted from the post.
And as one might expect, after a long-enough suspension of the proceedings, the roll was called and the Senators voted. The numbers are interesting for sure AND took a while to figure out:
Those who voted NO to declaring the seat of Committee on Justice chairperson vacant: Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan.
Senator Ralph Recto declared that the Senate Minority “will not take part in the issue.” The 3 members of the Senate Minority that in effect ABSTAINED on this vote included: Senators Recto, Sonny Trillanes, and Chiz Escudero.
So the 16 who voted YES to Ousting Senator De Lima include Senate President Koko Pimentel, Tito Sotto, Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Alan Peter Cayetano, JV Ejercito, Win Gatchalian, Dick Gordon, Gringo Honasan, Ping Lacson, Loren Legarda, Manny Pacquiao, Grace Poe, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar, Miguel Zubiri.
The ousting of De Lima happened swiftly, obviously well-planned and calculated, really quite fascinating. You almost want to pat whoever thought about it on the back and say: good job!
Except that of course Senator Cayetano and Senate President Koko Pimentel once used the Senate in exactly the same way that Senator De Lima had sought to use it. The only difference is that there was no *super* majority in the Senate at that time, unlike now: 16 Senators, cutting across PDP-Laban, UNA, the Liberal Party, and “the independents.”
Except that of course there is little trust in the Senate — in general — precisely because we’ve seen how through the years, nothing is ever just a matter of public service, and it’s not ever merely about political loyalty. Most of the time our Senators are revealed to be operating solely on personal interest and survival.
Today is no different, super majority included.
And no, I don’t think there’s anything *fantastic* about the Liberal Party’s four Senators who voted no. Puwede ba. At any other time the Liberal Party watched and let the Senate be used to their party’s advantage. The only difference this time is that they’re not in control. That does not make any of them heroes.