Rama cautions councilors on privilege speeches

A PRIVILEGE speech of Councilor Prisca Niña Mabatid wherein she named the two women who were alleged to have been sexually harassed by a former Cebu City barangay captain did not sit well with Vice Mayor Michael Rama.

Rama, presiding officer of the City Council, told reporters Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, that councilors should be careful and considerate in naming people in privilege speeches.

A privilege speech is the right of a member of a legislative body such as the City Council to speak freely to the legislature without fear of being sued for slander. Statements made as part of the privilege speech are protected.

In their session on Nov. 26, Mabatid gave a privilege speech defending herself from an accusation that she protected former Kamputhaw barangay captain Lorenzo Basamot, who is named in a sexual harassment complaint.

She mentioned the names of the two victims of the alleged sexual harassment.

She also played a recording of their conversation, which was heard by everyone present in the session hall.

But Mabatid later asked that the names of the women be stricken from the record.

Rama said in an interview with reporters Friday, Nov. 29, that everyone in the session hall heard what she had played and this cannot be undone.

The vice mayor, who has had a long and wide experience in parliamentary procedures, said this is the first time he has encountered something that Mabatid had done.

He has his management team come up with a way to avoid a repetition of what Mabatid did, he said.

He said in delivering speeches, councilors “should be extra careful.” Majority floor leader Raymond Garcia said Mabatid had not violated any house rules.

In the previous Council, Garcia said, anyone who had a privilege speech to deliver provided the councilors with a copy of his speech and informed the secretariat or the presiding officer if they had a PowerPoint or audio presentation to accompany their privilege speech.

In Mabatid’s case, she did not inform the presiding officer or the secretariat, Garcia said. Still, she had not violated any house rule, he said. (JJL)