Low attendance, not Senate rules, caused low ratings
This is in reference to the news item titled “‘One-sided’ Senate rules slammed” (Second Front Page, 9/1/14).
As a bona fide resident of Makati City for nearly 50 years, like former senator Joker Arroyo, former chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, we support his call for a lasting improvement in the conduct of hearings.
Senate records on attendance will show our presence (in the gallery) in quite a number of blue ribbon committee probes. Foremost were the two-week hearings on the P728-million fertilizer fund scam presided over by then senator Richard Gordon. That probe productively turned out voluminous and duly signed committee reports after marathon hearings from December 2008 to January 2009. We even have copies of the reports if only to show our burning desire for truth and transparency in all government dealings. With Makati—the premier city that my late parents have learned to love, and that we the children now value as well—now sadly the subject of an inquiry, we shall have the energy and perseverance to witness the marathon hearings.
Even more essential and fundamental than the alleged “one-sided” Senate rules is the dismal and, regrettably, low attendance not only in the present inquiry. There is a paper trail on attendance: the committee reports! The present Makati City inquiry on the allegedly overpriced
P2.3-billion structure has been attended so far, at any given time, by five senators at the most.
Apart from the conduct of hearings, is legislation that compels Senate attendance and the imposition of penalties and salary deductions for unexplained absences (including tardiness) a priority? Will the present hearings in the end turn out to be another one that “failed,” one with only two or three signatories to the committee report? What a waste of government resources and our time!
How will the nation, the silent majority like my family used to be, take this one—a failed, nonbinding report because of absences! Can six more senators or more take this basic challenge: Attend all future Senate hearings and the present one? But do they care at all?
—MANUEL QUADRA BONDAD,
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