LAS VEGAS: I just learned while in this Sin City that the Philippine legislature isn’t the only legislature in the world with cuckoos as members. Americans are reputed to be among the most sophisticated voters on the planet but some loonies so successfully masked their mental emotional deficiencies that the supposedly savvy voters got fooled, like what Assemblyman Stephen Brooks of Nevada has done.
It didn’t take long for Brooks to unravel his true character while enjoying his status as a lawmaker. Brooks had threatened to kill a lady legislator after he was bypassed for the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee. In the Philippines, the chairmanship of this panel, as well as that of the Committee on Appropriations, is for the Senate President or House Speaker to decide. Of course, there’s intense lobbying for these posts. I note, however, that Sen. Ralph Recto voluntarily relinquished his chairmanship of the Committee on Ways and Means after some mud was thrown at him over his report on the increase of the sin tax rate. Ah, but not everybody can so easily turn his back on such a choice post like Senator Ralph!
Brooks had been arrested for carrying a sword while arguing with a relative. He was later released after agreeing to undergo mental health evaluation. (Should somebody in Malacañang undergo a similar test?) He had also been caught carrying a .357 Magnum revolver and had admitted he was addicted to marijuana.
Misery loves company and Filipinos might feel better to know that they’re not alone in being burdened with some strange characters in Congress. But Filipinos would feel more miserable if they’ll know that Americans could unseat their mentally unstable legislator, which was exactly what they did to Brooks. If only we could as easily kick out of the Philippine Congress those who turn lawmaking into a circus!
He was expelled from the Nevada legislature in March 2013. He was the first Nevada lawmaker to suffer this ignominy. His “reign of terror” didn’t end with his expulsion. Hours after he was banned from the Assembly, he had an altercation with a trucker in San Bernardino, California, who immediately called the police because Brooks was “acting strange.” Brooks sped away when he saw the police, while throwing things away from his car. Spikes? He was tasered and handcuffed by the police when he violently resisted arrest. He even hit a police dog with a wrench.
Last January, he was sentenced to three years’ probation on a domestic battery case. When can we send to jail a politician who maltreats his wife and children? Why, even a chief of police who’s supposed to enforce the law can maul or threaten his wife and go scot-free! A lot of political observers are wondering how a character like Brooks could win a public office, and a lofty one at that. Maybe, these observers will be shaking their heads more should they get to know Philippine politics up close and personal.
Many head cases have run for elective office in the Philippines. A number have won but how long can a nation endure madness whether in Congress or in Malacanang? During the 2010 presidential campaign, there was a dare for then candidate Benigno S. Aquino 3rd to undergo psychiatric evaluation. He ignored this. There was a senatorial candidate who took seriously the need to assure the people that he was sane. Adel Tamano passed it of course. Unfortunately, we’ll never know the true mental state of President Aquino with his refusal to undergo a similar test.
Oh yes, I remember that in the ’60s, a perennial candidate for president, one Pascual Racuyal, was labeled as one having loose screws. He responded by undergoing a psychiatric examination and carried wherever he went a doctor’s certification that he was completely sane.
There was another presidential candidate, Valentin delos Santos of the cult Lapiang Malaya, who declared that he would surely win because with his divine power, the poll inspectors would read his name whatever might had been written on the ballot. Are their incredible election promises any worse than the unfulfilled promises of politicians who are seemingly sane? Or, are the electorates the ones whose heads should be examined for continuing to be fooled?
Here’s an addendum. I once asked Sen. Bongbong Marcos if his youngest sister Irene Marcos Araneta has ever entertained the thought of entering politics. Their mother Imelda is a congresswoman representing Ilocos Norte while their eldest sibling Imee is governor, so will Irene be next? Senator Bongbong’s retort was quick: “Perhaps, she’s the only sane one in our family because she refuses to join politics.”