Thursday, August 21, 2014

Big Letdown: Senator Koko Pimentel

I watched (live) with mixed feelings the Senate hearing on the alleged overpriced carpark building in Makati chaired and moderated by Senator Koko Pimentel.  Most dominant in my mixed feelings though was my disappointment to the supposedly “matatalinong” senators (as opposed to the bobo) who attended the hearing.  A number of article ideas popped into my mind while watching the proceedings but I felt that this topic is the easiest to write about.  The title “The brilliant Senator Koko Pimentel is not so brilliant after all” was very appealing because the supposedly brilliant successor of the supposedly equally brilliant Senator Nene Pimentel showed that he does not know BASIC PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURES.  To think that the procedures are widely available in the internet!

Evidence:  Very early in the proceedings, when resource person Atty Bondal mentioned that he needed certain documents, Senator Cayetano pompously moved that the Secretariat be directed to subpoena the documents from the concerned agencies.  Senator Koko Pimentel immediately directed the Secretariat to prepare the letters!

To readers ignorant of parliamentary procedures, this may be nothing but in reality, this is actually everything and strikes straight into the heart of the procedures that is universally accepted as the gold standard in collective and collegial decision making process used by any democratic group in the universe (because even the Jedi Council in Star Wars observe parliamentary procedures!).  The parliamentary procedures aim to ensure that before any decision that the chair makes, all the other members are given reasonable chance to air their concern.  The procedures also ensures focus of a meeting (like the hearing) by making sure that at any given time, a decision point pending on the floor is first resolved before another decision point is placed for deliberations.

What is the transgression that I am pointing to then?  Parliamentary procedures dictate that all motions, before being decided, must pass through a specific process.  First and foremost, it has to be seconded by another voting member of the group.  I did not hear this happen AND A POINT OF ORDER SHOULD HAVE BEEN MADE BY ANY OF THE OTHER SENATORS IN ATTENDANCE when the chair immediately accepted it and actually converted it into a decision.  After the motion is seconded, the presiding officer places it on the floor FOR DELIBERATIONS by saying, “It has been moved and seconded that the Secretariat be directed to subpoena the documents from the concerned agencies.  Are there any objections?”  At this juncture, other members of the group may voice out their opinions about the motion.  Among others, the obvious points that must be discussed relative to the motion are the specificity of the documents and the specificity of the agencies to whom these letters are to be sent.  Even the tone and contents of the letters should have to be discussed first!  This actually happened in the hearing wherein Senator Cayetano addressed the chair to ask Mayor Junjun Binay if the latter is willing to provide the documents even without the subpoena.  Mayor Binay answered in the affirmative and this rendered moot and academic the directive to the Secretariat to subpoena the documents!  This should not have happened if only A POINT OF ORDER WAS MADE BY ANY OF THE OTHER SENATORS IN ATTENDANCE when Senator Pimentel directed the Secretariat to prepare the letters after the motion was made by Senator Cayetano!  I do not expect that Senators Trillanes (He appears more and more to be living up to the notion of “ALL MUSCLE, NO BRAINS”), Sotto (Well, wala siya makopyahan!  Hahahaha!) or Ejercito (Ang santol ay hindi mamumunga ng mangga!  Hahahahaha!) to know about these matters, but I am certainly aghast d disappointed that Senators Pimentel and Cayetano (and Drilon too!) appeared to be as clueless as the others!  Does this put the bobotantes in equal footing with the supposedly “enlightened” voters who elected these supposedly brilliant senators!  Hahahahahaha talaga!

As it is clear to you by now my dear students in parliamentary procedures 101 (hahahaha!) the transgression of procedures by Senator Pimentel resulted in a decision just made by the chair being rendered moot and academic in the very same phase of the hearing.  Minor you may say?  Yes I do submit that the issue is relatively minor considering that it just involves minor procedures.  But the admonition of my boss when I committed a SINGLE grammatical faux pas in a 100+++ paged report (I used “is” instead of “are” in page 76) some 20 years ago flashed back in my mind.  “If you are not meticulous in your grammar, how can you convince me that you had been meticulous in the more important things, such as the data and conclusions in this report?”  To paraphrase it and apply it to Senator Koko Pimentel, “If you were not meticulous in your basic parliamentary procedures, how can you convince me that you had been meticulous in the more important things, such as the integrity and intentions of the resource persons and the senators sponsoring them in this hearing?

And being meticulous in this aspect is another thing that I did not see.  And that will be the topic of my next article.

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