When Congress says no, it could mean no


Remember the brash macho saying, which drove women up the wall and helped to ignite the feminist movement? It claimed that “when a woman says “No”, she could mean “Yes.”

‘tis said that this bogus wisdom has led to many rapes, the degradation of women, and the rise of sexual harassment as front-page stuff in America.

This chapter in the gender wars comes to mind as I behold the surprising and welcome news from the House of Representatives that its committee on energy has rebuffed President Aquino’s request for emergency powers to deal with a prospective energy shortage during summer next year.

Many are wondering whether this congressional rebuff really means “no”, or could mean “yes”, after a little discussion.

From rape to empowerment
The lesson from sexual politics is apposite here because former senator Joker Arroyo has accused Congress of being raped with consent by President Aquino, on major issues like the impeachment of former chief justice Renato Corona, when congressmen were bribed by Aquino to impeach and senators to convict.

Equally damning is the widespread perception that Congress today is subservient to the President, and is reluctant to assert its powers as the first branch of government empowered by the Constitution.

The cynical among us worry that the House is just playing hard to get, so that Aquino will give congressmen more pork and DAP funds. Once the Palace gets serious about getting what it wants, “NO” could mutate into “YES.”

In the case of the Senate, with Franklin Drilon presiding, the chamber may not even pretend to say NO.

Even so, the glib assumption that Aquino will always have his way with Congress may be more myth than reality.

A Congress in turmoil and flux
The turmoil caused by the pork barrel scandal and the even more scandalous DAP scam has sent both houses of Congress reeling.

In the subsequent effort to rebound from the mess, the legislature, especially the House, appears to be finding its voice and institutional identity.

There is a conscious effort among the newly elected congressmen and senators to identify the current Congress as the 16th Congress, to differentiate itself from the 15th Congress, which fell into disrepute for lynching a sitting chief justice and bribery.

There are now plenty of signs that Congress is veering away from the President as the terminus of Aquino’s presidency draws closer, and his lameduck status becomes more pronounced.

The rebuff of emergency powers on the power issue may be the clearest sign yet that Congress has not completely forgotten that it is a coequal branch of government, with real powers to check and balance the Executive and the Judiciary. The way the power issue was handled in the House is revealing.

Speculative power shortage falls flat
The administration faced the House energy committee last Monday to present the case for the grant of emergency powers to Aquino, and could not present a convincing brief.

To the surprise of many, the House committee moved quickly to turn down Aquino’s request for the authority to negotiate supply contracts with power producers, after it learned that the projected shortage was merely a thinning of the reserves for two weeks in summer.

The panel, headed by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, said it was more inclined to give the President special powers to implement the Interruptible Load Program (ILP), which encourages large private power consumers to use their own generators when supply is low. He said that the House would strive to approve a joint resolution on the power issue before December 1, but the provision regarding the rental of generator sets would be removed.

The decision was impelled by several notable developments and some startling revelations, namely:

1. The private sector has committed 847 MW under the ILP, with a usable capacity of 593 MW.

Among the companies that expressed willingness to participate in the program are the SM group, Robinsons Land, Ayala Land, Shangri-La, Waltermart, and Ortigas and Megaworld.

2. Remarkably, during the hearing, energy officials presented data showing that the country would only experience a 31MW shortage in 2015. And the shortage would only occur during the first two weeks of April 2015 and not the entire summer season as suggested by Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla. The projected shortage will actually be just a thinning of the reserves during two weeks of summer next year.

3. For its part, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) revealed that the anticipated power shortage will only translate to one hour of rotating brownouts on peak hours and only once a week.

4. Finally, energy department officials conceded that there was no need to contract additional generating capacity of 300 megawatts, which would cost P6 billion.

Energy Secretary Petilla, who inexplicably skipped the hearing, appears to be more a promoter of a power shortage, than a manager of the country’s power situation. With no facts to support him, he extravagantly claimed that government may have to address a 300-to-1200 megawatts shortfall in power generation next year to avert a power crisis.

Only President Aquino bought into his thesis that emergency powers for the President are necessary. Nobody in the industry and his department agreed with him.

The man is clearly out of his depth in the energy sector, and the country’s energy situation is far too serious to be entrusted to his inexperienced and untrained hands.

No to Aquino running for second term
The House was even more emphatic in rejecting the idea of a constitutional amendment to enable President Aquino to run for a second term in May 2016.

While some never-say-die allies in the chamber have dutifully floated the idea for Malacañang consumption, most legislators and the public have completely discarded the idea.

Palace spokesmen and propagandists keep up the lie that Aquino will continue to consult his “bosses” on the proposal for him to seek a second term, so he can continue his invisible reforms. In fact, no one has been consulted. It looks like the Palace itself has already given up on the idea of a term extension.

House, the more responsive chamber
When pundits opine that Congress appears to be a broken branch of government, it is the Senate that looks brittle and demoralized.

For perhaps the first time in decades, the House enjoys a higher approval rating than the Senate in the eyes of the public and the business community.

It’s no coincidence that the institutional decline of Congress has taken place during the presidency of Benigno Aquino 3rd..

Although Aquino and the 15th Congress were simultaneously elected to serve in May 2010, the Legislature for some strange reason fell quickly into a position of subordination to the Executive. From the moment Congress bought into Aquino’s program of revenge and scorched earth policy against the opposition, the work and reputation of the Legislature was severely compromised.

Now, there is an urgency in both houses of Congress to make Congress relevant and vital to national life again.

Finally, the eyes of all members of Congress are now turned to the elections in 2016. All are looking for a good horse to ride in the battles of 2016.

It is this Congress in ferment that the President must negotiate with for support in his final and desperate initiatives.



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  1. >>> that senate sub-committee red ribbon hearing could not be a kangaroo court, IT IS MORE LIKELY A BARBER SHOP CAUCUS !!!.

    >>> on the very beginning WHAT IS THE QUALIFICATION DOES THIS THRILL-ANES HAD TO BE A SENATOR ? Because he was the spokesman of Magdalo group who did those unsuccessful cudeta during PGMA period, and he was awarded by this Liberal Party and Cojuangco family of …..given him the senate slot candidacy and later given an amnesty by Nguyngoy BS Cojuangco-Aquino 3rd upon elected as president ( prior his sentence in court marshal in his case of treason and rebellion).
    Every time there will be a military cudeta, the leaders will be a politician after that. WHAT A REALITY (Expletive deleted – Mod) !!!

  2. We are in deep trouble kasi halos walang ng opposition sa administration. Look at USA, they have a healthy two-party system. No opposition in here so the Administration can do whatever they want..

  3. I will not be surprised if at the end of the day and when nobody is looking, the no will become a yes (just like what happened to the first impeachment case on Pnoy). nagpataas lang presyo ika nga.

  4. It certainly looks like the House is waking up. They have moved by not rubber stamping the request for Emergency Powers. Now if they can do the same with the budget, they will finally regain their power in Government and represent the people.

  5. The Philippine Congress is filled with chameleons and charlatans. As election come and go, it is really exciting to behold the phenomenon of metamorphosis on our legislators. From an avid and die-hard apologist, a legislator will become a fervent critic. All because personal ambition is paramount and public service a scapegoat. It is hard to believe that after 70 years of being a republic, this country is still in the era of nation-building. The basic national framework, copied from the US, is still unfinished, or practically built and rebuilt. The main culprit is our Congress who wrongly believe that their job is creating or amending laws, or much more our constitution. These charlatans pretend they know everything or has the monopoly of ideas for nation-building. Until these legislators change their paradigm on public service into a passion for economic development and social change, then our country will really move forward.

  6. Tama siguro si Mr. Ren Fuentes, baka nga nagkukunwari lang ang mga congressmen. They want to raise their leverage para taasan ni Aquino ang suhol sa kanila. Kailan pa sila gumamit ng prinsipyo. Pera lang ang importante sa kanila. Kung hindi, bakit marami sa kanila ang umabuso sa paggamit ng pork barrel and DAP money? Isa pa, bakit hindi sila umangal ng na-violate ng executive ang paggamit ng GAAs from 2011 to 2013, bagkus ang Supreme Court pa ang nag salba para maituwid ang pagkakamali ng Palasyo. Ngayon baka kasabwat pa sila sa pagapruba ng proposed budget na maraming undetailed na lump sums for the Office of the President and other lump sums scattered in all line agencies. Ang pinakamasama pa, yung pag redefine ng savings in the proposed GAA para magiging moot na yung desicion ng SC against DAP at tuloy maabsuwelto si Noynoy sa DAP fiasco. At marami pang mga instances na ang mga ginagawa ng kongreso ay hindi sangayon sa mga talagang mandato nila para sa bayan. Maraming pang kulang sa provisions ng EPIRA na dapat asikasuhin sa kongreso, katulad sana ng pag compell sa mga power producers to always guarantee surplus in power generation every period there is increase in demand, etc.

  7. victor m. hernandez on

    Greed is unstoppable even after the SC declared pdaf and dap as unconstitutional. It is a primal instinct, even if you giv th lawmakers more salaries, perks and pelf. Politicians are of feet of clay, as all of us are. Only the ephipany of hellfire can chang their instincts or the fire of love. As Ignacio says, men are motivated either by fear or by love. In between that are prevarications, and the pendulum swings from bad to worse, or good to bad, and so on and so forth. So the struggle continues, and we try to put our own bit to win the fight for good. Even don quixote sung, to march into hell for a heavenly cause,m which many, and almost all of us, will not do. Even when the pope visit RP. But even God is always patient with us to the end. As Jonah says, a sign will not be given, for if the sign is given, those of tyre and Sidon would have repented. And the politicians will not blieve the sign, they would fornicate, and masturbate (as the wife of a governor noted). Though we are a pathetic people, we are given a chance to avoid the hellfire. I hope we take the opportunity.

  8. We just hope that congress has finally come to realize that Noynoying’s influence is waning and turning into an early lame-duck
    President. Surely, we will have a new president come 2016.

  9. BSA brand of power politics is beginning to bite him the rear. The House is “subservient” to BSA through monetary means (DAP) which is a fickle and unreliable way of controlling a person.

  10. hindi ako naniniwala na ko-kontrahin ng mga congressmen ang gusto ni aquino. palabas lang siguro nila ito, pa pogi lang. in the end aquino will get what he wants. uhaw ang mga cong at sen sa pork. kailangan ng pondo para darating na eleksyon; wala ng pdaf sa budget pero si aquino ang may mga lumpsum budget sa 2015-2016 budget na inaprobahan ng congress kaya si aquino ang kanilang pag asa magka pondo para sa eleksyon,

  11. Edgar G. Festin on

    Hurray, congressmen and congresswomen. Some of you, not only those representing the viewpoint of the National Democratic Front and friends of the Communist Party of the Philippines, have remained vigilant in defending our democracy and our Philippine Republic, our Constitution and other vital institutions. May you those who have been drugged by the bribes of President Arroyo and Secretary Abad and become their virtual puppets now awaken and rise to restore the proper constitutional order. Please defend your branch of government and your power over the purse and other powers given to you so that our imperfect but working and very sustainable democracy is ot made comatose as it has been under President Aquino and those who control him.

  12. Padama lang ng mga congressman ang ginawa nila,
    Alam nila na masyadong halata kapag pumanig sila kay Aquino at alam ito ni abnoy.
    Para din yan impeachment ni Aquino panalo sa umpisa tapos lanang substance daw ang reklamo!
    Ibang klase mag-isip ang mga linta,wag masyadong bibigay agad!

  13. ominous sign to noynoy and his cohorts who served during the 15th congress. the presidency ambition of mar roxas, cayetano and even noynoy is now doomed as the 16th congress finally woke up from its slumber! let’s just hope & pray that patriotism of some of the congressmen (forget about the senators) will prevail over the lure of the money from the DAP creators (abad & noynoy).

  14. P. Akialamiro@yahoo.com on

    As a lifetime ‘student’ of politics, local and otherwise, I surmise that the ‘trapos’ and the ‘balimbings’ will be starting to ‘shore up’; less and less of them will be clinging on to the coattails of this ‘hoity-toity’ president. After all, the influence he thinks he still has, is already waning- – fast!

    In another news, this president said that he is willing to be jailed for decisions he made. Has he any choice?