City dads revise abstention rule

The new normal in the city council is that when ever a councillor steps out during the voting on issues, he or she will be considered to have abstained and will be answerable to his or her constituents for not making an stand.

The Dumaguete City Council presently composed of seasoned and neophytes bold and proud enough to cast votes even if these could potentially damage their political prospects or re-election has considered abstention a luxury that must be strongly discouraged.

Councilor Alan Cordova noted that in the previous terms, the City Council has allowed those who disappear during voting time the luxury of not voting on pressing issues with potential damaging consequences to be listed in fact as “Out During Voting” yet they remain present in the roll or attendance.

Being present and counted as part of the quorum yet one chooses to skip during voting time can affect the outcome of the vote and the action on pending measure if the required number of vote is not attained or results in a tie requiring the Presiding Officer to cast his vote.

The issue came to fore when during the July 27 session, a councilor who was marked present in the attendance missed casting his vote 13 times for 13 pending propositions as he left the session hall after asking the permission not of the council but of the Presiding Officer Vice-Mayor Franklin Esmena Jr.

Cordova, urged his colleagues to be audacious enough to cast a yes or no vote on all issues and be prepared to answer and defend the same before the electorate that gave them the mandate to decide on policy matters relevant and good for the general welfare.

Hence, for the 9th time, the Council last week revised its rules pertaining to abstention as “a member has abstained if he fails to cast an aye or nay vote at the session hall at the time of voting.”

This removes the confusion as to how to treat or record the votes of member who are present during roll call or even participate during deliberations but nowhere to be found during time of voting.

Abstentions, which means declining to vote for or against the proposal or motion, are being used before as a luxury by some who are “sitting on the fence” or trying to avoid a possible tempest, which for the present councilors goes against the letter and spirit of their oath of office.

Under the revised rules, the councilors can inquire among those who abstained for reasons of the abstention but they could ignore such query or refuse to answer at their own risk. Members are also not allowed to delegate the casting of their votes to any other colleague for they are supposed to be actually ad physically present on voting time. (By Dems Demecillo).

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