Drilon Clarifies Stand, Denies Proposing a Stop to All Privilege Speeches

Article excerpt

Senate President Franklin Drilon yesterday denied published reports that he has proposed a stop to all privilege speeches in the chamber, saying that my statement was twisted and taken in the wrong context.

In a press statement, Drilon cited an excerpt of an interview with him which was made the basis of the news story. He stressed that he never said he wanted all privilege speeches stopped.

The excerpt reads:

Drilon: I would suggest that no more privilege speeches should be delivered so that there will be no more investigations. This is the situation: A senator delivers a privilege speech. Under the rules, it is referred to the appropriate committee. The appropriate committee is required under the rules to conduct a hearing. Now, what do we do? Ceasefire on privilege speeches. Kaya nga may Privilege Hour.

As can be gleaned from the above excerpt, Drilon said, the statement no more privilege speeches should be delivered was a rhetorical remark and was made to emphasize that the Senate has no alternative but to conduct investigations as long as there are privilege speeches. By ceasefire on privilege speech, I did not mean that the Senate should do away with the Privilege Hour. At most, such statement should be taken as an appeal that the availment of the Privilege Hour be deferred.

Let me also clarify that there is nothing unusual in proposing a ceasefire on privilege speeches, Drilon said. In informal caucuses of the senators, we propose regularly that we do not avail so much of the Privilege Hour so we may focus more on legislations that are pending.

The Privilege Hour is part of the Senate rules and tradition; it is a basic right of every member of Congress to stand up and talk on matters of public interest. Not even the Senate President can prevent its exercise. At most I can only appeal as I do during caucuses that the availment of the Privilege Hour be sparingly done or deferred if there are urgent legislation pending. …