MANILA, Philippines – They may be vastly outnumbered, but the minority will still have a voice in the Senate by virtue of the upper chamber’s no-cloture rule, said Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Friday, May 31.
Cloture refers to the means of terminating a filibuster.
In a Rappler Talk interview with editor-at-large Marites Vitug, Drilon said, “We have a rule that you cannot cut the debate.” He said that this rule “is an effective tool that prevents the Senate from being a rubber stamp, because I can stand on the floor and ask all questions under the sun and by tradition the Senate President cannot stop me.”
The no-cloture rule is the same Senate tradition that allowed debates on legislation such as the Reproductive Health law to drag on.
“Nobody can say that we just allowed everything to happen. I would go back to our tradition of no cloture,” Drilon said.
The rule, Drilon added, is also what makes the opposition in the House different from that in the Senate. “In the House they can stop the debate and outvote the opposition, here [in the Senate] the majority by tradition cannot invoke the cloture rule.”
The Senate minority bloc in the 18th Congress will have 4 members – Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, and Leila de Lima, who is detained in Camp Crame over alleged drug charges. De Lima has not been able to vote on key issues in the chamber since her detention.
‘Art of the compromise’
Legislation also means meeting halfway with fellow senators, Drilon emphasized.
“You cannot have everything but you must be able to find a compromise that will serve the interest of the public – maybe not to the full extent because there are various interests in our society, but to the extent that you can find a common ground,” Drilon said. “That is the key to legislation.”
Drilon’s advice to neophyte senators? “Committee chairmanship is not the be-all and end-all.” The veteran senator said that chairmanship is a huge responsibility. “You must study [because] committee chairmanship means you take the floor and defend the bills that your committee will present.” (READ: Drilon to Senate newbies: Study first, leadership quarrels later)
Drilon, a Senate veteran, first became senator in 1995. The next 3 years will be his last in the Senate. He has been in pubic office since 1986, during the administration of former president Corazon Aquino.
Drilon said that in the next 3 years, he will “continue to see to the best of my judgment whether or not [policies] are consistent with public interest or if private interests are served.”
“I would like to believe that given my experience in the bureaucracy I could contribute to national welfare,” he said. – Rappler.com