IN his nine years as congressman and three years as senator, President BS Aquino The Last, I mean The Third, wasn’t known as a reformist. He didn’t champion any reform measure although he was champion several times in shooting competitions among legislators. (A friend told me that early on, BS Aquino had imagined that he was shooting at Juan Ponce Enrile and Gringo Honasan when aiming at the target.)
Oh yes, as senator he did file “reform” measures against Malacañang’s impoundment of funds in the Congress-approved budget and continuous reappointment of bypassed Cabinet officials. These were his moves against the “overreach” of the executive department. Obviously, his belief in these reform measures was superficial for he has been impounding funds and reappointing bypassed officials now that he’s in Malacañang.
I have often quoted Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s description of BS Aquino as a congressman. She said: “He is a sorry excuse for a scion of a great man whom I would want to educate – if he is educable.” Hey, am I a wet blanket in recalling this? Recently Senator Miriam said that should she run for president in 2016, she might have to coalesce with either the Nacionalista Party or the Liberal Party. To coalesce with the LP, she must get the anointment of BS Aquino whom she once described in very unflattering terms.
With a non-existent record as a reformer before his election as president, BS Aquino shouldn’t arouse so much hope and expectation as a reformist. That he did could only be because Hope triumphed again over Experience. After more than four years, an increasing number of Filipinos are getting dissatisfied with and critical of the Aquino administration. Sure, everybody wants him to succeed. Sadly, he has proven himself to be an incompetent administrator and a self-centered leader who refuses to accept any blame, fault or criticism.
Despite growing public dissatisfaction, BS Aquino refuses to mend his ways. He continues to paint himself as the only source of reforms in the country and his critics as enemies of reforms. He inveighs against judicial overreach that he says is preventing the implementation of his reforms. Yet, he sees nothing wrong in the executive department’s overreaching to the judiciary and the legislature, in seeing himself and the Office of the President as the fount of all power.
This executive overreach could also be because he considers himself the fount of all knowledge. He has no formal studies in law and yet, he considers his knowledge of this discipline superior to that of the magistrates. He has had so-so performance as legislator and yet, he seldom convenes the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council to help him identify legislative priorities. How about his infrequent Cabinet meetings? Oh well, perhaps he has no need for the Cabinet members’ help, that’s why he has surrounded himself with “lightweights,” as Senator Miriam once described the Cabinet.
I had covered the legislature since 1983 (Interim Batasan). I had seen the glorious days of the 8th, 9th and 10th Congresses, but the luster of Congress has gradually faded thru the years, with the current 16th the worst. I have never seen a post-martial law Congress as complicit in the clipping of its own wings as the 16th. That it allowed the executive department to overreach, especially on its inherent Power of the Purse, speaks volumes of its lack of spine. Oh well, what matters spine or of the Power of the Purse if congressmen continue to gorge themselves with pork courtesy of Malacañang?
Rightly or wrongly, I don’t have much hope in the congressmen’s ever reasserting the independence of their chamber from Malacañang. It’s the Senate’s miserable submission to Malacañang influence that borders on a tragedy. This Senate sees nothing wrong in everything emanating from the Palace.
The Senate still has to start its probe into the multi-billion-peso Malampaya fund despite reports that it has been misused as a source of pork. The yellow ribbon committee has frozen its investigation into the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund after its chairman, Sen. TG Guingona, described testimonies and affidavits against opposition senators as the “last-second three-point shot that won the game.”
The Senate has held only one hearing on the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program even if the fund’s sources, uses and status of projects funded remain undisclosed.
On the other hand, a subcommittee of the yellow ribbon committee headed by Sen. Koko Pimentel has already held three successive weekly hearings on its inquiry into the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall building 2.
Why should the Senate give priority to the inquiry into a local issue over those of Malampaya, the DAP and the PDAF that involve ten times or more than the allegedly P2-billion overprice of the Makati building?