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May 28

Obstruct and disrupt

The amendment offered by Senator Angara was along the lines that the Comelec would be requested to provide a list to buttress whatever information is already contained in the certificates of canvass with Congress. Upon referral to the sponsors of the rules governing the canvassing, the sponsors declined to accept the amendment. Angara then questioned the integrity and word of honor of the Senate President and the Speaker who, he said, had assured him in a meeting during a suspension of the session, that they were all for the Angara amendment and that they didn’t see any problem with the sponsors of the rules accepting the amendments.

The Senate President and the Speaker both explained that while they had undertaken to support the Angara amendment, the rules’ sponsors, after initially being inclined to support the amendment, had now rejected the amendment, and could not be compelled to do so now in session.

After an intervention by Sen. Arroyo which further heated matters, Sen. Angara continued to impugn the integrity of the by now rather sheepish presiding officers.

Then Sen. Sotto rose and stated that since their attempts at constructive cooperation had been thwarted, and since Sen. Angara’s demands for the sponsors to explain why they reversed their initial undertaking to support the Angara amendment, the opposition no longer found itself bound by its previous pledges to cooperate with the majority.

What followed was a swiftly organized rebellion by the minority. Rep. Dinangalen called for the roll to be called to determine the presence of a quorum. The senate had one; eventually it proved that the house lacked a quorum. The difference was spelled by 10 representatives walking out of the hall during the calling of the roll.

A last ditch (and dangerous, had it succeeded) effort to salvage the situation was made by Rep. Espina of Biliran, who asked if the leadership could not compell the attendance of those who had walked out. Dinangalen countered this by pointing out that the moment the lack of a quorum is determined, the session must be immediately suspended. The Speaker agreed. The alternative would have been to send the sargeant-at-arms to basically arrest the rebellious oppositionists and physically compel their return to the session hall.

Hopes of passing the rules governing the canvassing of returns today have therefore been dashed.

It will be obstructionism and disruption from here on unless some major ego massaging takes place between now and 2pm today. The opposition can now add one more piece of evidence to its long dreamed-of desire to lay the groundwork for turning the 2004 canvassing into a dark twin of the 1986 canvassing.

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