A LOOK at the leading wannabes for the next Senate makes one sigh that there’s nobody in the mold of Miriam Defensor and Joker Arroyo among them. Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago will be singing a swan song in June 2016 so there’s no way she could still grace the Senate in the 16th Congress. Joker, on the other hand, is still qualified to run since there is already a three-year break in his remarkable public service
The 21-year stint of Senator Joker in the legislature was not only colorful but also remarkable. I personally witnessed his performance in 18 of those 21 years and I consider him one of the best legislators I have ever covered. If we can’t we have another one like him among the potential candidates in 2016, why not urge him to take another stab at the Senate in 2016? Forget his age! He’s sharper than several politicians many years his junior.
Many legislators speak of their independence but very few among them could do so as convincingly as Joker. Now that President BS Aquino The Last, I mean The Third, has the legislature on a virtual leash, we need somebody like Joker even more to uphold the independence of the Senate. Had he been a member of the 16th Congress, he would have made a bigger issue at the Senate of the Disbursement Acceleration Program and of the executive department’s hijacking of the legislature’s power of the purse.
At the House, he voted against the Electric Power Industry Reform Act that was being pushed vigorously by the newly installed Arroyo administration. Although he ran for the Senate under a coalition headed by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, he severely criticized GMA’s issuance of Executive Order 464 that prohibited executive and military officials from appearing in Congress as resource persons without her approval. Joker represented the Senate when the chamber questioned E0 464 before the Supreme Court.
He was a human rights lawyer during the regime of martial law. He didn’t shed his championing of human rights when he lambasted GMA for issuing Proclamation 1017 that called for warrantless arrests and curtailed press freedom. It’s also this predisposition that made him vote for the measure that bans the reimposition of the death penalty, which is now a law.
He is very eloquent but his one-liners are also highly quotable. His description of the Aquino Cabinet as “student council” is still enjoying currency. How about his description of BS Aquino as “evil genius” for implementing the nefarious DAP? He rapped the President for his “dictatorial tendencies,” a kind of criticism that one seldom hears even among the supposed political opposition.
Oh yes, aside from Senator Miriam, the following senators will also be graduating in June 2016 when they complete their second consecutive six-year term: Pia Cayetano, Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Lito Lapid and Bong Revilla.
The hard-working Pia is one of my favorite lady senators. Many things could be said of JPE but nobody can ever question his intelligence. His debates with Nene Pimentel, Edgardo J. Angara and Joker Arroyo were among the most educational ones. Unfortunately, he could also get very temperamental which leads him to utter unparliamentary remarks. He virtually forgot parliamentary decorum in his tirades against Nene, Antonio Trillanes 4th and Miriam Defensor Santiago.
The reelectionists in 2016 are Senators Franklin M. Drilon, Ralph Recto, TG Guingona, Bongbong Marcos, Serge Osmena and Tito “Tito Sen” Sotto.
A recent survey by Pulse Asia ranked Tito Sen first if the senatorial election were held today. I consider him a most under-rated senator. His mastery of parliamentary procedures is unquestionable. I would even rate it at par with that of former Sen. Kit Tatad, now a fellow columnist at the Manila Times. Many deride him as a mere comedian but Tito Sen is definitely more than that. As one who has covered him from the hustings since 1992 to his three terms at the Senate, I can say that he’s a credit to the chamber.
Among the reelectionists, Guingona is the laggard in the Pulse Asia survey. This could be the public’s reaction to his conversion of the once well-respected blue ribbon committee into a yellow ribbon committee. What more should one expect of one who is convinced that the Aquino administration could do no wrong with its “tuwid na daan?”
A more vigorous opposition is possible in the upcoming 17th Congress should former Senators Dick Gordon and Migz Zubiri win. Dick was sixth while Migz was 10th in the Pulse Asia Survey. They’ll be joining Bongbong Marcos who’s a sure winner should he opt for reelection.