MANILA,  JUNE 11, 2004
By Christina Mendez  -  The Philippine National Police (PNP) has beefed up security for Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. following reports that they are being targeted by leftist hit men.

"Even in the absence of any information, we always presume that, because of their personality and specific involvement in the canvassing of votes... they will be at risk. It comes with the personality and the position," PNP Director General Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said.

Ebdane said the PNP has not yet seen any reports coming from its Directorate for Intelligence about any credible and specific threats against Drilon and De Venecia. PNP intelligence chief Director Robert Delfin said the PNP has not received any fresh reports regarding any threats to the two top leaders of Congress. Delfin said the threat to Drilon’s life goes as far back as two years ago, arising from controversies in Drilon’s home province of Iloilo. He did not elaborate on these threats, however.

"So far, we have not received (fresh) threats against their lives," he said.

Besides Drilon and De Venecia, Maguindanao Rep. Didagen Dilangalen is also a target for assassination, the PNP said. Dilangalen earned prominence recently due to the "shut up" incident during the joint session of Congress when it convened into the National Board of Canvassers to count the votes for president and vice president.

Ebdane said the PNP is mandated to provide security for top government officials even if no specific threats are leveled at them.

"They have their security and they have not increased the number of personnel, but in some other ways we have enhanced their security coverage," he said.

Miriam seeks gag rule to stop canvass delays By Paolo Romero The Philippine Star 06/11/2004

Senator-elect Miriam Defensor-Santiago advised yesterday opposition Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, who practically halted the congressional canvass last Tuesday with a three-hour speech, to write his sexual memoirs instead. Pimentel has issued threats since Friday last week that the canvass may be delayed if the majority bloc insists on keeping the opposition under its thumb. To make his point, he resorted to filibustering — a recognized parliamentary recourse for senators to interminably delay proceedings to stop a certain bill or ruling — and grilling an election official for hours on end.

"I think he should just start writing his memoirs, and devote a chapter on his sex life during his younger days. I suppose that would be interesting based on his actuations as a statesman now," Santiago said.

She also called on administration lawmakers to impose a "gag rule" to stop the opposition from delaying the canvass through filibustering and other means. At a press conference at the House of Representatives, Santiago said she furnished Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan and Deputy Speaker Raul Gonzalez — co-chairmen of the joint committee conducting the actual tabulation of votes for president and vice president — copies of her memorandum, which she said can provide the legal basis to stop opposition lawmakers from delaying the proceedings.

"In today’s parliamentary practice, a filibuster is no longer considered heroic or glamorous, but a futile and pathetic annoyance," she said. "Filibustering during canvassing is illegal, undemocratic, and could be unconstitutional and subject to contempt."

"Filibuster is the synonym of logorrhea, logomania, runaway tongue, and verbal diarrhea," Santiago added. Logorrhea is defined as "pathologically excessive and often incoherent talkativeness," while logomania is "abnormal talkativeness."

Santiago, President Arroyo’s election lawyer, said her memorandum is likely to be appreciated by administration lawmakers. She said under the principle of necessary implication, Congress is duty-bound to finish the canvass by June 30. She pointed out that filibustering does not only include making long-winded speeches but also raising dilatory motions.

Clarifying that her comments on filibustering are not personally directed against Pimentel, Santiago said if a filibustering senator is cited for contempt, the majority of Congress can either jail or fine the talker, "put a tape over his mouth, switch off the sound system, or impose silence and communicate with each other by text messages."

The Rules of the Senate, according to Santiago, provide for a cloture rule, a procedure by which a lawmaker can move to end a debate and call for an immediate vote. While the Rules on Canvassing do not have a cloture rule for legislators, only for the lawyers of candidates, Santiago said the Senate rules apply during canvassing.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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