MANILA, Dec. 14, 2012—The administration that has trumpeted its supposed devotion to “daang matuwid” as one of its hallmarks seems to be traversing a jagged road by blurring the lines meant to ensure the independence of the legislature from other branches of government, based on an incident that happened at the House of Representatives.
Late Wednesday night as voting on the reproductive health (RH) bill took place, pro-lifers were alerted that Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and Secretary Ricky Carandang were in the building.
The news was reported in mainstream media today, with social media abuzz with this latest development, netizens decrying Malacanang’s apparent meddling in legislation as action on the RH bill progressed, and one even posing a challenge to the administration.
“I am anti-RH bill, but if I were pro-RH bill, after knowing the process by which the RH bill was passed — through blatant bribery and abuse of authority by our president — I would really rethink my stand,” said registered nurse Anna Cosio.
“Wake up, Filipinos! This is corruption right before our very eyes! There must be something wrong with you if you see this as something that calls for a celebration,” she added.
“The presence of four representatives from Malacañang just destroyed the integrity of the legislative branch as a co-equal branch. The three branches are there to check and balance each other, and not for the executive branch to subordinate the others,” educator Trish Castro pointed out.
“I have somehow lost my trust in our government, especially the executive branch which has had a hand also in the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona.”
“These developments and meddling have surely messed up our legislative system and have marred the image of the House of Representatives in the people’s minds specially the youth,” said Mao Joseph Almadrones, a university student.
“We saw everything and I for one am so disgusted and disappointed at how manipulation and meddling by foreign influence and the Palace could lead to a future demographic crisis. This is not what we need. This will not help our nation. They have made an august House and a democracy a den of thieves.”
“All the biggies that handle everything a Congressman needs, from the budget down to the disbursement, were there plus his media ‘rottweilers’ who will spin this story again. My take is that if they – Malacañang and Lagman and company – were so confident that the bill would pass, why would they have to be there? Seriously you had to have four cabinet level people there?” dentist Ricardo Boncan said.
“Let’s analyze it – 113-104 is hardly overwhelming with 62 absentees who, in one way or another, have come out alleging that they were pressured, or bullied, into submission. The bill should have lost had Malacañang not blackmailed the 60 or so absentees,” Boncan asserted, adding that what he would like to see is the absentees in the House “and vote of their own free will come Monday.”
He further issued a challenge to the Palace and to proponents of the controversial measure: “To Malacañang and to Congressman Lagman, Garin etc., prove to the Filipino people that you really have the mandate for the RH bill. Let the 62 absentees vote without pressure from your boss PNoy, and if you win then I concede we deserve it!”
What ‘conscience vote’?
Homemaker Rowena Mendoza-de Guzman scoffed at the notion of legislators’ capabilities to make sound decisions as to the voting when the funding for their projects is on the line.
“How are the legislators going to vote according to their conscience if their PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund] is being withheld or dangled in front of them like a bait, and if they are pressured by their party to vote one way or another? There’s no such thing as voting according to their conscience here. What is evident is clear manipulation by the executive branch to push for the approval of the RH bill even if many are clearly against its passage,” de Guzman said.[What the four Cabinet secretaries did on Wednesday] was out of line because the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government should be separate. President Aquino should give our legislators respect in the form of trusting that they vote for what is best for the country and not send his people to make sure that he gets exactly what he wants,” writer Nicole C. Bautista remarked.
“This kind of sigurista tactic makes him no different from tyrants.”
House Bill 4244, approved on second reading Wednesday, is likely to be put to a vote on third reading on Monday. (CBCP for Life)