Manny Villar’s allies in the senate pulled off a smooth parliamentary maneuver today by boycotting the expected vote to censure Villar over the C-5 road diversion. Ed Angara, Joker Arroyo, Alan and Pia Cayetano, Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda, Nene Pimentel, Bong Revilla, Miriam Santiago, and Villar himself were absent at the last day of the senate’s session. The absence of a quorum made it impossible for the chamber to conduct business, including to take up the expected vote on the senate resolution on Villar.
As majority senators pointed out, it made not only a vote on Villar impossible, it also made any other votes on any other pending bills impossible. Now tied with Noynoy Aquino in the surveys for the top spot among presidential candidates, Villar probably calculated that his absence would not make enough of a dent on his numbers as much as a censure by his peers would. Future surveys will tell if this calculation was correct, but from a procedural point of view, this boycott was completely unnecessary.
First of all, the majority did not have the numbers to pass the censure motion.
Lets do the math.
The senators who would have voted to censure Villar are Enrile, Honasan, Aquino, Roxas, Gordon, Madrigal, Lacson, Pangilinan, Estrada, Escudero, Biazon, and Zubiri. Twelve senators that would have been just enough for a simple majority to “convict” Villar, assuming that a simple majority was all it takes, as Enrile says, and not a two thirds majority as Santiago claims. Nevertheless, Lacson is out of the country and would not have been able to vote. In short, with Lacson absent, the majority did not have the numbers to pass the censure motion against Villar, making the boycott unnecessary.
Unfortunately, the boycott also made it impossible for the senate to do its job–to pass bills on the last day of the session. Partisan politics has once again trumped legislation. Its not only the bills that are the casualty here. The senate, who spent months fighting over the Villar C-5 issue only to fail to resolve it one way or another, now looks diminished.