A case of being present but not there?
This refers to the article, “‘Next time, stay in the hall,’ Sotto tells Marcos during voting dispute” (2/11/20), on the resolution urging President Duterte to rethink his plan to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States.
Sen. Imee Marcos was quoted as saying, “My vote is in fact abstention and no vote was made at all,” and that “[I] instead merely manifest that, if I had been aware that there was such a motion to approve the said resolution, I would have abstained.”
Under Robert’s Rules of Order, “to abstain” is not a vote. Only “yes or no” votes are considered and counted as votes. I guess it is incumbent upon any legislator to make a stand on any issue and make known his or her reasons why he or she is voting for or against a motion or question. To abstain from voting is to do a disservice to the constituents who voted for the legislator. It is the solemn duty of a legislator to make clear his or her stand on every issue besetting the country.
Why do legislators abstain from voting? Consider the following possible reasons: 1) they do not want anyone to know what they think about the issue; 2) they are not sure about what they think; 3) they doze off, hence they lose track of the business at hand and they do not know what the vote is all about; or 4) they totally miss that a vote is happening because they are thinking about the next meal, the dress to wear, or the party to attend.
Senators and other legislators should not only be present and attentive during deliberative proceedings, they should also be more engaged in the proceedings and professional in their conduct.
Sotto said it was not the fault of the Senate leadership that Marcos failed to cast her vote. I totally agree with the Senate president.
REGINALD B. TAMAYO, Marikina City
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