• ‘Just because this is Congress’

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    Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia

    AND so when PRRD went to deliver his second SONA last week, it was like a sword cutting through the labyrinth known as Congress. People inside were laughing and clapping, entertained by a mayor with very colorful language, salacious at times and loaded with double entendres.

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    It was straight talk to Congress, an in-your-face offensive on an institution that needs to change if the Duterte Revolution is to be successful. How does an incumbent talk down to power? Only a Duterte can and legislators didn’t feel a tinge of insult because they believed in their hearts that PRRD was talking about another gate of hell. They believed in their minds that whoever sits in Malacañang will be compromised by the politics and a political order that dictates how politics should be. They were so wrong.

    PRRD did not even ask Congress for a supplemental budget for Marawi. What does AO 3 say about funding: “It will be sourced from available funds of member agencies of the Task Force and such other available funding sources as the DBM may identify…” And so the lump sums in four departments were tapped to the consternation of some legislators. But would you go out and object to that?

    On the extension of martial law in Mindanao, PRRD said, “Kung ayaw nyong ibigay, okay lang.” PRRD wished for 150 days and was willing to settle for 60 days; but he called the special session on the last day of martial law, two days before the SONA. If Congress did not oblige by 10 p.m. of July 22, the martial law declaration would have lapsed. Congress was up against the clock. Would they go against the tide and vote “no”? As early as 4 p.m. of July 22, Congress already gave in to PRRD. The vote was 261 to 18 in favor of an extension up to December 201. Calling the special session on the last day of martial law was a win-win than any pork barrel politics of the past.

    The second SONA of PRRD showed the whole nation what is wrong with our politics. PRRD did not mince words in saying so. From “we need to act fast” to the maraming tresurero dito, to the “lowest bidder as a source of corruption” to who-cares-about-extra-marital-affairs joke: “What’s wrong with that? Let’s not kid ourselves. Just because this is Congress, it has to be a secret, secret? Believe me, we are all guilty of that” (translated from Filipino).

    PRRD was even more confrontational about mining before a body full of miners or mining supporters, “Finally, let me make this appeal to those directly engaged in mining. Declare your correct income. Pay your correct taxes. Believe me, your failure to do so will be your undoing and eventual ruin… pero pagka sinabi ko upakan kita, upakan talaga kita.”

    He asked Congress to focus and act on pending legislation on what to him were the most pressing issues: the West Philippine Sea, federalism, the reimposition of the death penalty and the procurement law.

    A stern warning shot: “Sabi nila “bully” daw ako. P—- i–, talagang bully ako, especially to the enemies of the state”…“May project ngayon, gusto na naman nilang kuhanin. Do not commit that mistake. Here and now, I will tell you, including the Congress of the Republic of the Philippines: You do anarchy, I will order the soldiers and the police to shoot. Even if I have to bury thousands of Filipinos. Huwag ninyo akong ganunin.”

    And finally, a strong pitch for his tax reform package: “I call on the Senate so support my tax reform in full and to pass it without haste. Ayaw manmag palakpak, pati si ano. They are not clapping. Si [Sen. Sonny] Angara, ayaw ring mag-clap. Bantay ka lang sa eleksyon, tingnan mo.”

    [They don’t want to clap. They are not clapping. [Unnamed senator] does not want to clap. Sen. Sonny Angara also not clapping. Just you watch out in the next elections, you’ll see.]

    Duterte opened his speech with a reference to his time in Congress: “I was always absent together with the Speaker and Tonyboy Floirendo, who is still absent until today. And that started… Ay nandiyan ba? Sorry. But his propensity started almost 17 years ago when we were members of the 11th Congress. One is therefore reminded of a saying that goes: ‘Pro and con are opposites, that fact is clearly seen. If progress means to move forward, then what does congress mean?’”

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