Gone are the days when members of the Philippine Senate were highly respected because of their no nonsense propositions, fiery speeches, and above all, the integrity of each lawmaker.
This was how Mang Antonio Cruz, a retired public school teacher now in his 70’s, remembers the legislators in the upper chamber when he was a fresh graduate.
Cruz, who came to my office last week to seek assistance for a case over a land dispute, said the senators then were very eloquent and bold in their statements, likening them to Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago now.
“They always sounded like the interest of the public comes first rather than their own personal advantage when they file bills and during deliberations,” said the retired high school teacher.
He added that he never heard of people accusing these lawmakers back then of being corrupt as everyone looked up to the Senate as an untarnished institution that really worked for the people.
“Pero ngayon, parang inuuna pa nila ang kanilang mga sarili at kung papaano kumita gamit ang kanilang mga puwesto at kapangyarihan,” Cruz sadly said.
Obviously, the Senate investigations these days do not really mean to help legislate a law. Rather they are for the personal advancement of some of its members, Cruz finally said.
Political analyst Antonio Contreras seems to agree with Cruz saying some members of the Senate have placed their personal vested interests first before that of the nation and its people.
Contreras noted that senators waste their time conducting investigations when, in fact, they should focus on drafting and passing legislation that will benefit the people.
“Mga bobo lang ang maniniwala na ang imbestigasyon dyan kay (Vice-President Jejomar) Binay ay in aid of legislation talaga”, said the political science professor of De La Salle Univesity.
He also said the Senate has lost its intellect and credibility because some of its members were voted by the people because of their popularity and not for their intellectual capacity. He cited the likes of Claro M. Recto, Eva-Estrada Kalaw, Arturo Tolentino, Ferdinand Marcos, etc. in the 60’s.
Like Contreras, former Sen. Orly Mercado believes the senators waste their time on inquiries rather passing bills like job creation, over expenditures, the poor healthcare system, etc.
“They wasted several days investigating Dr. Hayden Kho, regarding that sex video few years ago, which they said is in aid of legislation. Was there a law passed after that inquiry?” Mercado asked.
Asked why the Senate has lost its image as a body of bright and honest men and women, Mercado simply said, “Nawala yung mga galing sa intellectual clans and very progressive families.”