The Pied Piper of Hamelin played his flute and brought rats following him to their death at the River Weser. In the Philippines, the Pied Piper of the House played his “flute” and brought the truant congressmen back to the plenary Monday where they killed the move of Navotas Rep. Tobias “Toby” Tiangco for a full accounting of the wrongly named Disbursement Acceleration Program.
Hey, did I use the wrong legend for comparison? In the world-famous German legend, the Pied Piper volunteered to rid Hamelin of rat infestation in return for 1,000 gold guilders but got paid only 40 gold guilders by the ungrateful people of Hamelin. At the House, congressmen, not rats, answered the “flute” by going to the chamber in droves and in all probability, were paid along with the “flutist.”
Absenteeism has always been a bane of the House. I have written numerous columns deriding the apathy of congressmen in attending sessions. I also know of several congressmen past and present who made it almost a sacred vow to attend all sessions. Among them are/were Reps. Raul del Mar of Cebu City, her daughter Cutie del Mar, Roilo Golez of Paranaque, Dante Tinga of then Taguig-Pateros, Renato Yap of Quezon City, Magdaleno Palacol of Laguna, Cirilo Roy Montejo of Leyte, Dato Arroyo and Salvio Fortuno of Camarines Sur, Edcel Lagman of Albay, Miro Quimbo of Marikina, Rene Relampagos of Bohol and Ben Evardone of Southern Leyte.
Raul del Mar and Roi Golez have the longest streak of perfect attendance with 21 years and 18 years, respectively.
How about renowned boxer Rep. Manny Pacquiao of Saranggani? In the 15th Congress, he actually attended only 98 of 168 session days. (A session day may last more than one calendar day when the session is merely suspended.) He started the 16th Congress by attending the first two sessions. Alas, his “perfect attendance” lasted only two days. In the First Regular Session that ended last June 11, 2014, Pacquiao had actually attended only 30 of 69 session days.
My distaste for absenteeism notwithstanding, I had hoped congressmen’s antipathy to attending session would manifest itself again in last Monday’s session. Sure, lack of quorum would have delayed the approval of the budget but who cares? The national budget is now a mere scrap of paper, implemented at the whim of the administration thru the Department of Budget and Management. The full details of the DAP are now more important – which “slow-moving projects” were cancelled or suspended and their funds hijacked, to whom, how much and for what projects were the funds diverted to, and what’s the status of the projects that were supposed to accelerate economic development.
Welcome Senate moves
Well, well, well, there’s good news at the Senate. The much-delayed “Fair Competition Act” is now undergoing individual amendments on the floor. It’s being sponsored by Sen. Bam Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Trade, and has for its authors Senators Serge Osmena, TG Guingona, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Jinggoy Estrada, Antonio Trillanes 4th and Aquino.
One of the main objectives of the bill is to ensure that industrial concentration does not result in the exercise of economic power by a few persons that threaten to control production, trade or industry in order to stifle competition, distort, manipulate or conscript the discipline of free markets or increase relevant market prices in the Philippines.
Another objective seeks to prohibit anti-competitive agreements, abuses of dominant position and anti-competitive coordination that distort, manipulate or constrict the operation of relevant markets in the Philippines.
Similar bills filed during the time of Senate Presidents Manuel Villar and Juan Ponce Enrile never reached this advance stage of deliberations now obtaining under Senate President Franklin Drilon. President BS Aquino The Last, I mean The Third, spoke of the need for such a law in his very first State-of-the Nation Address. Unfortunately, and for whatever reason, he never nudged Congress to pass it. Well, I guess he has been very busy with his campaign against Chief Justice Renato Corona, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and for the accumulation of “pork” to strengthen his grip on the legislature. Fortunately, FMD (it’s for Franklin Magtunao Drilon folks, not for Foot and Mouth Disease) doesn’t need any nudge from Malacañang to act on it.
Oh yes, a bicam has already approved the report providing for scholarship in a state university or colleges of the top 10 graduates of a public high school. Sen. Pia Cayetano and Rep. Roman Romulo of Pasig were main authors of the measure. This promises to provide scholarship for as much as 80,000 high school graduates. I hope that this measure can be implemented without jeopardizing the viability of the SUCs.