Some members of Congress are well on course to self-destruction.
Lawmakers often complain about the bad press that Congress has been getting. The media becomes a convenient excuse for the adverse publicity that they get. But aren’t they engaged in self-demolition?
Assigning the blame to media for reporting the abuses and other shenanigans that tend to give the public a bad impression of how they perform or under-perform has become a favorite political sport.
At this time when incomes of low-salaried workers are tightly squeezed for taxes from which they benefit minimally, we would like to see Congress crafting meaningful pieces of legislation that can provide financial and economic relief.
It is painful for hardworking taxpayers to have senators using public money and official time to dissociate themselves from the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam instead of supporting the long-pending Freedom of Information (FOI) bill and the bill that seeks to raise the tax exemption cap
on the 13th month pay and other bonuses from P30,000 to P75,000.
If Senate President Franklin Drilon wants to regain public trust in Congress, he should make sure that Senate Bill No. 256 authored by Senate president pro-tempore Ralph Recto hurdles the legislative mill.
Somehow, enactment of the bill can provide relief to government and private workers whose purchasing power has been shrinking for years due to inflation.
Increasing the tax exemption on bonuses provided in the antiquated law will not completely erase negative perceptions on certain members of Congress. For sure, it will take time and lots of reform efforts before the public can trust Congress again. But it is a positive step to rebuild
Senators and congressmen should rather make a law that will provide strict guidelines and tough penalties against rice smuggling instead of discussing a pending bill that seeks to punish restaurants not serving half-a-cup rice.
Rep. Emil Ong of Northern Samar has filed House Bill No. 3897 that imposes an amount double the value of the rice smuggled and life imprisonment on persons found guilty of smuggling rice.
Sen. Ferdinand “Bong-bong” Marcos Jr., one of four senators identified as the biggest beneficiaries of questionable transactions involving millions of pesos in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) that were coursed through bogus foundations and ghost livelihood projects, authored Senate Bill No. 1863, or the proposed Anti-Rice Wastage Act.
The bill prescribes a fine of P20,000 to P100,000 on dining establishments refusing to serve half-a-cup rice. Rep. Agapito Guanlao of Butil party-list and Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza of Batangas have filed a counterpart bill at the House of Representatives.
While the half-a-cup rice bill is pending, there is another bill that seeks recognition for adobo, a popular Filipino dish, as the national food.
In pushing for House Bill No. 3926, Rep. Rene Relampagos of Bohol wants that recognition be given to the following national symbols: Jose Rizal—national hero; Philippine Peso—national currency; Great Seal—national seal; Manila—national capital; Malacañan Palace—national seat of government; Filipino—national language; Lupang Hinirang—national anthem; Arnis—national martial arts and sport; Cariñosa—national dance; Philippine monkey-eating eagle – national bird; Carabao—national animal; Bangus—national fish; Narra—national tree; Philippine Pearl—national gem; Sampaguita—national flower; Anahaw—national leaf; Mango —national fruit; Adobo—national food; Bakya—national slippers; Bahay Kubo—national house; Jeepney—national vehicle; Bayan Ko—national song; and, Maka-Diyos, Maka-tao, Makakalikasan at Makabansa— national motto.
Relampagos said around 20 national symbols are taught in school but have no basis in law and thus, considered blatantly colorum such as Rizal, carabao, baro’t saya and bangus.
Aside from correcting their unofficial status, Relampagos said his bill aims to develop nationalism and develop tourism through these symbols and to preserve, promote and provide guidelines for their use, care and conservation, among others.
But with the enormous economic and political problems besetting the country, is this bill so urgent to merit the time and attention of Congress?
While adobo is close to the stomach, making it the national food would not help feed the hungry children who are loitering and begging in the streets instead of attending school.
The adobo bill only keeps in our minds how pork-greedy some of our lawmakers are. Perhaps, it would help them earn the respect of the public if they will sincerely abolish the pork barrel system instead of debating about making adobo a national dish. Besides, which adobo recipe should it
be? I can cook at least 10 variations of adobo, and I am aware that there are more than 101 adobo recipes out there.
For sure, there are a thousand and one better things to do for Congress than to waste time and taxpayers’ hard-earned money debating about adobo.
The anti-dynasty bill and the anti-signage of public works bill are just two of the more sensible measures that may be worth their time if they truly want to serve the public good and eventually regain the trust and confidence of the people.