What is meant by “vote according to your conscience”?
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - July 14, 2020 - 12:00am

Both Malacañang, through the presidential spokesman, the president himself, as well as Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, have given the green light to allies in the majority, as well as to the minority, to “vote according to your conscience”. That sounds plain and simple. But according to the oracle of Delphi, or the astute political wizards, that statement is what the lawyers would call negative pregnant.

The committee hearings on the ABS-CBN's application for a new franchise are about to wrap up. Or, so they say. And the 46 members of said committee plus all the other deputies who are de-officio members, will soon vote, on whether or not to present to the plenary a positive recommendation in favor of the network. There are 42 members of the majority coalition in the Committee on Legislative Franchise, including our very own, Cebu first district representative Eduardo Gullas, and our TUCP party-list congressman Raymond Democrito Mendoza, from Liloan. If we count as Cebuana, Yedda Romualdez (niece of the Mendozas), then we have three from Cebu. Let us watch how they will interpret voting according to conscience.

To our mind, when political leaders like president Duterte and Speaker Alan would say “vote according to your conscience”, that could only mean that your conscience should remember how ABS-CBN didn’t air the political ads of both presidential candidate Mayor Digong and vice presidential candidate Cayetano in the 2016 campaign, despite the fact that payment was already made by the party and received by ABS-CBN. Upon the questioning by congressman Pidi Barzaga, it appeared that it took too long for the network to apologize and to offer the return of the millions paid by then Mayor Duterte. So, if you vote according to your conscience, you know what to do.

The political undertones and implications of voting according to conscience would mean, you should remember the dual citizenship of Gabby Lopez, the so-called interlocking ownerships of Amcara and ABS-CBN, the corporate layering in relation to so-called tax avoidance, the many questions on the contractual status and alleged illegal dismissal of employees, the so-called biased reporting and alleged acting as presidential kingmaker. Members of the majority bloc should use their conscience and remember Dr. Lee Suy and then DOH secretary Garin, the Silawan murder, and the report on the so-called flesh-eating disease in Pangasinan.

And above all, in voting according to conscience, the honorable members of the committee should recall the moral values (or absence of them) in noontime shows and telenovelas that used vulgar language and lewd scenes, as exposed and elucidated on by Bishop Benny Abante. They should remember the “patong scenes” shown by Congressman Abante, the wet presentation and the lack of social relevance and redeeming values, of hosts asking guest to choose between sex or chocolate, or lights on or lights off. Why are these hosts asking people what is the best time for sex? What have these to do in building the character and the morals of the young and the old alike? These are the parameters of voting according to conscience.

To say what is obvious and to put it bluntly, if you vote according to your conscience, you, sirs and mesdames, the honorable members of the jury, should bring to the plenary a verdict of denial, or, for a happy compromise, a recommendation of granting the renewal but with a thousand conditions and reservations.

ALAN PETER CAYETANO
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