• Bills for the Hall of Shame

    Efren Danao

    Efren Danao

    Typhoons have been wreaking so much havoc in the country but don’t worry. One lawmaker had reportedly thought of a novel way to eliminate it once and for all. How? Simple, dear Watson – file a bill outlawing typhoon.

    Then there was the anecdote about a lawmaker who was incensed by the steady increase in the prices of basic commodities. When he was told that prices were governed by the law of supply and demand, the lawmaker retorted: “Then we should repeal that law!”

    These stories may be apocryphal but I do know that some lawmakers believe that their election to the legislature has given them the license to file any kind of bill under the sun. Since I started covering the legislature in 1983, I had noted several legislators who had filed measures that border on the absurd.

    Why borrow? Just print money!

    There was this self-proclaimed economist in the House who filed a bill to establish what he called “managed currency” in the country. He expressed confidence that his bill would minimize foreign borrowings while making full use of our natural resources. Hey, if his bill is as good as he described it, then this lawmaker should be a candidate for Nobel Peace Prize in Economics. Let’s hear from him again.

    He pointed out that the country has a lot of cement, gravel and sand. If the government wants to build roads, bridges and school buildings, it need not borrow from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank, Japan, or Korea since raw materials for such construction projects abound in the Philippines.

    “If the government needed money, all it had to do is ask the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to print more money!” he concluded.

    He was so proud of his “novel” idea that he brought up the topic with his colleagues and House reporters whenever he had the opportunity. Unfortunately for him, none among his colleagues were convinced. In fact, the committee to which his bill was referred never bothered to hold a public hearing and it was eventually archived. A true economist in the House said that should the bill become a law, Philippine peso would be a Mickey Mouse money.

    “There’ll come a time when a kilo of rice would cost a sack of pesos,” the economist told me when I asked why no hearing on the bill was ever called.

    Deuterium delirium
    Then there was this congressman from Mindanao who revealed that a “divine inspiration” had impelled him to file a bill that would end the country’s reliance on imported and expensive fossil-based fuel. His “divine inspiration” urged him to mine the deuterium that he said is aplenty in the Surigao Deep, the second deepest in the world.

    He maintained that deuterium, a heavy form of hydrogen used as a moderator in nuclear reactors, is formed whenever strong waves lash at the Surigao island. He argued that all that scientists have to do is “collect” the deuterium and the Philippines would have endless source of fuel for its nuclear power energy.

    “The country would no longer spend precious dollars to buy oil from the Middle East. In fact, the Philippines could even export this deuterium which is an inexhaustible resource in Surigao,” he added.

    Wow! This lawmaker should have been in the Cabinet of President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd! He wants the Philippines to be not only self-sufficient in energy but also an exporter of deuterium. I’m sure he would have been in good company in BS Aquino’s official family.

    The public hearing on the deuterium bill was attended by several persons who said they had invested in a firm that was supposed to collect deuterium in Surigao. Well, that lawmaker is also forward-looking. Should his bill become a law, then there’s a firm already in existence waiting for a government contract for the collection of deuterium.

    If those persons were the only attendees, then the public hearing would have resulted in a favorable endorsement of the measure. However, also in attendance were scientists from the National Science Development Board and the University of the Philippines who called the bill “Deuterium Delirium.”

    These scientists said that sea waves could produce a very small percentage of deuterium no matter how strong they are in battering land. They twitted the belief that all that had to be done was “collect” deuterium, saying it’s very costly, if not virtually impossible to mine deuterium in the ocean. Nothing more was heard of the “Deuterium Delirium” after that single hearing, much to the chagrin of its supporters who lashed at the scientists for not getting any divine inspiration.



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