PRESIDENT Aquino has virtually ordered the Congress to pass 19 of 26 (earlier in mid-2014 the number was 29) priority bills for the good of the Republic.
“Order” is the correct word, although Palace press releases and reports carried by the conscript media use “ask” and “urge” to hide the fact that both houses of Congress have become slavishly obedient to Mr. Aquino. By customary and traditional practice since our Republic was born and by the will of the people as stated in the Philippine Constitution that they ratified, our two-chamber lawmaking branch of government is supposed to be co-equal to the executive branch of government (headed by the President) and to the judicial branch (whose highest body is the Supreme Court.)
The Congress is not supposed to be the President’s running dog. But congressmen and senators have become nothing less than what the anti-Marcos activists called “tuta.” This happened first because they were all (but for a very rational and patriotic few) among the majority of our people hypnotized by the Yellow Flag of the late sainted President Cory Aquino that the political operators used to launch B.S. Cojuangco-Aquino’s ascent to the presidency.
Then once he was occupying the Malacañang throne, President B. S. Aquino immediately made sure the congressmen and the senators became his willing minions through his (and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s) power to release massively increased pork barrel funds.
He made doubly sure of the congressmens’ obsequiousness by actually bribing them to charge Chief Justice Corona of impeachable offenses (none of which progressed because of lack of evidence). He also bribed the senators to convict C.J. Corona of a minor offense (not reporting certain assets he owned) that surfaced during the kangaroo impeachment trial in the Senate.
That is why the congressmen have willingly surrendered to President Aquino their important “power of the purse”–the sole power to decide how our, the taxpayers’, money is to be spent by government. Without this power, the ability of Congress to check the Palace’s power and to control its abuses disappears.
That is why our nation’s lawmakers will do what the President commands.
They will surely pass the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law to create a new autonomous area for Muslim Filipinos in Mindanao that will supplant the now extant Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. This law is No. 1 on the list of priority laws President Aquino told Congress to pass this year.
But the Palace realistically thinks only 18 of the priority laws will get passed from the time Congress resumes holding sessions on January 19 until it adjourns for the Christmas break in December.
The other 17 laws contain anti-people provisions. But the most insidious are the Palace version of the Freedom of Information Act and the Whistleblowers Protection Act.
The provisions of the Palace’s Freedom of Information Act negate its title. President Aquino wishes it passed, hoping it would be accepted as his much-delayed fulfillment of his 2010 campaign promise. But this Palace version of the much-needed FOI Act will make it even harder for citizens, and their representatives, the mass media reporters, to get information from government officials. The list of exceptions to what citizens can expect quick, honest and complete information about will allow government officials to refuse to answer questions that good journalists are now able to obtain answers for.
The Whistleblowers’ Protection Act will in fact discourage brave souls from squealing on their corrupt bosses.
Passage of these bills undermines the anti-corruption campaign and the demand for more and absolute transparency.