What is meant by ‘vote according to conscience’
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - July 16, 2020 - 12:00am

If, last week, you believed the literal meaning of the signal from both Malacanang and from the Speaker “to vote according to your conscience,” you must be laughing at yourselves by now. Politicians have their own vocabulary, you must read their lips.

Voting according to conscience meant that members of the majority coalition should not commit the palpable error of straying away from the flock. They were supposed to adhere to party discipline. The party whips would have seen that rule strictly enforced. Never mind if Vilma Santos from Batangas, aligned herself with the ABS-CBN's eleven. She has been a talent of that network since Romeo Vasquez and Edu Manzano, and the majority should allow her to be grateful. If Sol Aragones of Laguna voted for ABS, let her be. She worked there for 13 years. Congressman Maceda of Manila and de Venecia of Pangasinan are related to Marichu Maceda of Sampaguita Pictures with strong ties with the Lopezes. Perhaps they voted according to their loyalties.

But members of the majority coalition are bound by party rules. Leyte's Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, majority leader, and his wife Yedda voted according to party line. So did Strike Revilla of Cavite who joined fellow Magdalos like Pidi Barzaga, Boying Revilla and Mambol Tolentino. Metro Manila's Dale Malapitan, Eric Martinez, Anthony Crisologo, John Marvin Nieto, Weslie Gatchalian, Precious Castelo, Crystal Bagatsing, Camille Villar and Bayani Fernando voted according to their conscience by sticking it out with the coalition. Dan Fernandez and Joaquin Chipeco of Laguna abandoned Aragones and remained loyal to the coalition as mandated by their conscience.

Voting according to conscience is a cardinal rule in party politics, just as Democrats and Republicans adhere to this political dictum, regardless of personalities and notwithstanding the issue at hand. Party loyalty will be rewarded with plum committee assignments, large pork barrels, and strong influence in appointments to juicy positions. Look at the Villars in a small city like Las Pinas. Because of the support of Senator Cynthia in the Senate and Camille in the House, whatever Villar wants, Villar gets. Mark Villar is in control of public works and highways. They really do not need the salaries. They need to protect the billions of business empires. Protection is the result of adherence to party politics.

That is why Mikee Arroyo voted against ABS-CBN, together with Paulo Duterte and the Nograleses, Defensors, Gatchalians, the Malpitans, the Estrellas of Pangasinan, the Dys of Isabela, Farinas of Ilocos Norte, the Villafuertes of Camarines Sur, the Sy Alvarados of Bulacan, the Mangudadatus of Cotabato, the Tans of Samar, the Mercados of Southern Leyte, the Romualdos of Camiguin and many other clans and political blocs. The congressmen as jurors do not decide like jurists who need to analyze and weigh the quantum of evidence. They decide according to the directions of political winds.

And so, when presidential spokesman Harry Roque tells you again that Malacanang is neutral on the ABS-CBN issue, just smile and wink your eyes. Then tell him: Tell that to the marines, sir. We were not born yesterday. We may be silly and even crazy. But we are not stupid nor dumb. We know the real score.

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