Congress should have more ‘men of conviction’

Efren Danao

Efren Danao

A recently reelected congressman was sentenced last week to 30 months in jail for misuse of campaign funds. Sadly, the convicted congressman wasn’t from the Philippines, but don’t you wish he were? Many in this country have committed far worse crimes involving public funds, but they reamin scot-free.

Certainly, there should have been more persons of “conviction” in our legislature but for the grace of their power and well-placed protectors. The convicted lawmaker bears a very familiar name – Jesse Jackson Jr., son and namesake of a respected human rights leader. Perhaps, the prestige of his father helped him win the elections, just like how many of our politicians got elected. Jackson Jr. was once considered one of the more promising politicians in the United States, no doubt helped by the stature of his father. Now, with his conviction, his political life is finished. This just goes to show that a son’s having the same name as his revered father is no guarantee that he’ll follow a straight path.

Jackson Jr., a Democrat, was first elected congressman of Illinois in 1995 and was reelected in 2012. His political demise started when he spent $750,000 in campaign funds on luxuries, including a Rolex watch. So very like Filipinos!

What’s not Filipino-like is that he got convicted. No, no Filipino lawmaker would ever get jailed for spending on luxuries campaign contributions he had received from private persons and entities. Why, our politicians don’t even report their correct campaign expenses so they could easily pocket the unspent amount. Or, if they had spent it all and most of the money came from their own pocket, they can always recoup their expenses from public funds thru their pork barrel.

Recoup their expenses thru their pork did I say? My, butit seems this is now doubtful. President Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino 3rd heard the shouts of his “boss” and ordered the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) not to release pork thi squarter. As he had said time and again, the people are his “boss” and he wasduty bound to listen to their voices. In this case, the people were not onlyairing their sentiments. They were actually hollering and he listened.

Hey, did the President really hear their thunderous shouts? I thought they were shouting for the abolition — not suspension—of the pork barrel! Oh well, he might have listened to another more powerful boss whose whispers to his earsdrowned the shouts of the people.

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon (FMD) had apparently yielded to the public clamor for a parallel Senate inquiry into the venal use of pork barrel as graphically, sordidly illustrated in the Commission on Audit(COA) report. He also announced an agreement among majority senators not to touch their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) until the DBM has instituted appropriate reforms in its release.
Here’s part of FMD’s press statement:

“Now that COA has completed its Special Audit on the PDAF from 2007 to 2009, it is time for the Senate, through its Blue Ribbon Committee to conduct public hearings, in aid of legislation, on the utilization of the PDAF, to review the need to fund the PDAF in 2014 and beyond and to immediately recommend the adoption of strict guidelines in the use of the PDAF, among others. It is time our people are informed about the details of that special audit.

“I enjoin my colleagues in the Senate to respond fully to the questions raised by COA’s findings. We are accountable to our people and they deserve no less each than everyone’s full explanations to these questions.”

His and the Senate’s credibility is at stake with his acknowledgment that they are accountable to the people. If he’s true to his word, then there should be no whitewash in the inquiry. After all, FMD stands for Franklin Magtunao Drilon, although it’s more popularly known to stand for Foot and Mouth Disease.

As senators try to mend their chamber’s image, I suggest that they contemplate on a prayer of ex-Sen. Joker Arroyo before the start of a session. I was so touched by the prayer that I asked for a copy. Here is his short but meaty prayer which he personally wrote:

“Heavenly Father, we bow our heads in prayer as we take agood and honest look at ourselves.

“The Roman Senate had great members, like Julius Caesar. It also had its share of controversial senators, like Brutus and Cassius.

“They were pagans who worshipped false gods to whom they prayed for guidance, thus betraying their mortal weakness—that they had faith only in themselves. In the end, their hubris was their undoing.

“Lord, spare us from that folly. Amen”


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1 Comment


    I totally agree with Mr Danao that Congress should have more men of conviction but how do you find these men if your voters lack the intelligence and the capacity to discriminate who are men ,not only of conviction, but who are honest and morally upright.Look at your congress. How many are there because of their popularity and not because they know how to legislate or understand laws. If Napoles is not convicted she can easily buy her way to the presidency. God help the Filipinos.