“Remember that we are colleagues here, we are elected by the people and we are all senators. I am not your student, and you are not my proctor,” Senator Bong Go said on June 4 after Senator Franklin Drilon inquired if refusing interpellation is the new normal in Senate.
Senator Go declined for interpellation after delivering a privilege speech criticizing departments in the executive branch of government for delays in giving cash benefits for health workers who died from COVID-19.
“Ito 2 months na wala pa din. Bakit matagal? Sadya bang pinapatagal? Wala bang gumagalaw sa inyo?” Go said during the June 4 senate session.
“Our health workers are doing one of the most difficult jobs against an unseen enemy. They have paid the ultimate price of their lives so the rest of our countrymen and women will live,” Go said. “Kung kayo ang mamatayan at pahirapan ang pagbibigay ng tulong sa inyo tulad ng ginagawa ninyo? Ewan ko na lang kung hindi kayo mamatay sa sama ng loob.”
After Go’s speech, Drilon inquired if not accepting interpellations is the new normal in Senate. However, he noted that “it is the privilege of the gentleman from Davao not to take questions and interpellation.”
“Historically, the Senate has always been known to be the arena where the policies of the national government are debated either through law or through resolutions or through privilege speeches. That is when theories are tested and policies are debated in effort to come up with better policy,” Drilon added.
Senate President Tito Sotto said “indeed, it was never the practice not to entertain questions or interpellation anytime you rise or take the floor… But usually the practice is that when you rise, you have to answer the questions or you have to allow yourself to be interpellated.”
“Perhaps the gentleman from Davao be well advised to next time, anyway he has a very good point that he should allow it. Although we cannot force anyone to yield the floor when he rises, unfortunately,” Sotto said.
Drilon noted that he recognizes parliamentary rules. “I recognize privileges of the senator on the floor and we do not question that. We just want to know if this is now the new normal,” he said.
“I don’t think it is. Definitely not,” Sotto said.
In response, Go said “the observation of the Minority Floor Leader is well noted. Thank you very much for the reminder, but it depends on the issue, I’m willing to be interpellated eh itong issue na ito is my privilege and siguro kung baka matatagalan tayo, mauubos ang oras natin dito.”