SOME say we have a do-nothing Congress, especially a House of Representatives that often fails to muster a quorum. Well, this is one time where the inaction of the House is very commendable. I’m referring to its enlightened failure to pass the proposed Law on the Bangsa Moro (LBM), also known as Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), before it adjourned its second regular session sine die.
The decision of the House to defer the plenary debates on the LBM to the Third Regular Session will give its members more time to weigh the arguments of those who inveigh against the measure. They could consider the suggestion of Sen. Bongbong Marcos, chairman of the House Committee on Local Governments, to consider the measure as an amendment to the Organic Act of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. They could have more time to reflect on the powers to be given to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to the exclusion of other sectors in the region, and the influence of Malaysia over the region should the proposed LBM be approved as is.
Then, perhaps, the congressmen would accede to the proposals that would prevent the region from becoming a substate. And when that time comes, the proposed law will be fully deodorized and will cease to be called LBM.
Or, is this just a pipe dream?
The Aquino Administration definitely knows how to turn push into shove should its persuasive powers in the form of pork fail to convince lawmakers to dance to its tune. Why do you think the Department of Justice has been making noises about filing a new bunch of graft charges against still unnamed lawmakers for the misuse of their pork barrel?
Incidentally, I haven’t been using the term “Lower House” to refer to the House of Representatives and “Upper House” for the Senate. These were appropriate when the two chambers were located in the same building, with the Senate occupying the upper floor. Now, the House and the Senate are based in different buildings about 20 kilometers apart. Perhaps, the Philippine legislature is the only bicameral Congress in the whole world where the House and Senate are not in the same building or compound.
Poe’s silence is deafening
I had criticized Vice President Jejomar Binay for not giving a full (and credible) explanation on why the Makati City Hall cum parking building is overpriced, or why it cost the city government P350 million to transfer one department to the new building. I had never expected Sen. Grace Poe, who has been lashing at dishonest government officials, to keep mum on new questions about her citizenship and residency.
She has been asked to give details on when she made a formal renunciation of her US citizenship since she continued to be issued a US passport in 2011, according to a Manila Times report. There have been no specifics on this. She merely gave the vague statement that she had renounced her US citizenship.
She said that she has been staying in the Philippines since 2005 and yet, there’s the report that she was using her US passport in 2009. Did her use of the US passport negate her claim of Philippine residency since 2005? This is a legal question, but more than a legal question, it gives the unsettling feeling that she came back merely because she was offered a government post.
When she was named a probable candidate for senator in 2012 for the following year’s election, she was still using “Llamanzares” as her family name, and she was far from the Top 12. Then, she started using “Poe” and her rating rose, I think to No. 19 or No. 16. A greater surprise came when she was proclaimed the topnotcher, garnering the highest number of popular votes ever in the history of Philippine elections. To this, she clings to the name of her adoptive father, believing that this is her easiest path to higher office. Just like the Malacanang tenant?
Former Rep. Jing Paras of Negros Oriental has been reported as saying that she would file a disqualification case against Senator Poe should she file a certificate of candidacy for a higher office. That’s still several months ahead. Senator Poe could shorten the waiting time by giving detailed answers to the questions raised against her here and now.
Please, no answers like “it’s just politics” ala VP Binay, and please cut the drama.
And, oh yes, she should also answer the question on why she renounced her allegiance to the Philippines by becoming a US citizen.