When will the Senate, House stop hosting zarzuelas?

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Marlen V. Ronquillo

Marlen V. Ronquillo

The best Pinoy TV writers can’t hold a candle to, or write plots with as much intense drama and twists as seen in the recent testimonies of some witnesses at the Senate and House of Representatives.

The Senate’s version was murder of the first degree that allegedly involved a former big city mayor who is now the president of the Republic. The House version was a narco state at work, complete with payoffs and trysts at the “kubols” of high profile prisoners, with a former Justice secretary turned senator of the realm as allegedly the central character. And with alleged “ bagmen “ as the second lead characters.

Just a few months ago, the national buzzword was “GDP.” Now, it is “ Uzi.”

Where the tall tales end and where the truth begins, we do not know. Mr. Duterte has passionately denied the charges of self-confessed hit man Edgar Matobato. Ms. de Lima has likewise debunked the House testimony of Magleo et al. My gut feel is this: those in public service can commit crimes but can’t really commit crimes as high level and soulless as those revealed in the testimonies. They were too gross and too reckless to be true.


The public can tolerate the petty crimes of politicians but not crimes and indiscretion of the highest order.

It cannot be denied, however, that Matobato, Magleo and company had the nation glued to their testimonies, sparking endless debates and speculations. Filipinos, it seems, cannot have enough of dark tales, even with the daily overdose from the de kahon TV soap operas. The “ telebabad” that essentially dumbs down the Filipino, and make the boob tube the anchor of our education on culture, is painfully true. And that fascination for tales extends to the stories of hit men and bagmen.

Filipinos have been too fixated on the testimonies and dramas to a point that no one is asking this question: What are the two chambers of Congress doing other than hosting zarzuelas?

In a democracy, the ideal scenario is this. The leader of a country, Mr. Duterte in our case, hits the ground running from Day One. What, specifically, does this mean? After his cabinet appointments, the President prepares a set of draft bills, then appeals for the speedy passage of these measures by the House and Senate.

Except for foreign policy, which is theoretically the domain of the Chief Executive, policy-making is the work of Congress and the first act of the President after naming his or her key people, is to collaborate with Congress to pass urgent policy.

A president has limited executive powers and turning to Congress to write policy is the usual practice in a democracy. The failure of our civics and AP courses in school has been at the root of our gross misconception that it is the Chief Executive who writes most policies. There is no such power in any democracy anywhere in the world.

So the question is just right and timely. When will the two chambers stop hosting zarzuelas and get down to the task of writing policy? That is what the taxpayers are paying for and they should get their due, even in mere increments.

The two chambers can’t afford to be stuck in a state of utter indolence and stasis.

The two chambers cannot even say that there has been no guidance from Malacanang. The FOI issuance of Mr. Duterte is a virtual message to Congress. Please pass the enabling law because the FOI as an executive order is a very limited issuance.

We also have the pending tax reform measure, which was snubbed by Mr. Aquino.

The enactment into law of these two bills – FOI and tax reform – is tough and taxing enough. But the results would have life-changing and game-changing effects. An FOI law will enable the public to learn about cabinet decisions that are not about national security. What did you discuss in that cabinet meeting? What was the stand of this particular cabinet member on this specific policy question? We could discern which cabinet member is a moron and which is a discerning student of policy.

An FOI petition would unlock information that will answer why a particular mining company was granted an environmental clearance certificate. The details of winning public bids will have to be made public after an FOI request. Journalists will be the prime beneficiaries of an FOI law.

On this multi-billion peso, PPP project, what were the bases for the award? Even the internal discussions of the Philippine Competitive Commission on anti-trust issues and monopolies will have to be made public.

The tax reform law will surely be an economic booster. Money justly saved from the taxmen by the wage earners will surely go to spending. Only the rich are covered by the “paradox of thrift “ and ordinary wage earners splurge with whatever money (after tax) is left.

It is also about time that taxes are made equitable and at par with ASEAN rates.

Also remember this. The two chambers of Congress have to pass the national budget before the new fiscal year sets in. Time is running out and Congress cannot yield a zero score before the start of the budget deliberations.

Stop the zarzuelas and buckle down to work.

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8 Comments

  1. nevermind the yellows, the marcos sins, .as long as shows like eat bulaga,(32 years?) plus joey de leon adlib, vice ganda’s immorality on tv continues,or willie revillame dancing girls,who cares about your zarzuela’s in the house,MOST OF US WILL just change the channel to tune in to another lowlife dramas on another station,sad but true,while writing this,song in background ,napakasakit kuya eddie,i swear

  2. Now that the shoe is in the other foot, the Yellows are crying to high heavens of persecution and harrashment.

  3. Mr. Duterte’s clowns at the Senate & in the House of Representatives will only STOP their zarzuelas if Sen. de Lima is politically dead & her character & credibility is destroyed. Her being a former Chairman of the Commission of Human Rights & former DOJ Secretary is a BIG THREAT to his extra judicial killings/crimes against humanities as former Mayor of Davao City & now as President. Sec.de Lima fight for our Constitution – the rule of law & due process. Do not allow Mr. Duterte to bully you.

  4. ..why you have to call it zarsuela…a form of musical comedy! we are at war against drugs and its evil, people ar elosing lives criminal asa well as police, then you have to call it zarsuela…i have high respect for manila times but i cant help mayself not to be sad upon reading your column, you a point there there are more pressing issues but do we have to call it zarsuela…

  5. Love of movies and tele-dramas have made Congressmen want to become authors and directors. There are already too many laws to be observed.

  6. Did the yellows complain when Corona and Erap were being skewered in Congress? No, because it was the yellows who were doing it. Today its the yellows who are being made to look bad, very bad, by the current investigations. Is this why the zarzuela must be stopped, kasi nasasaktan ang mga dilaw? You said, “..those in public service can commit crimes but can’t really commit crimes as high level and soulless as those revealed in the testimonies. They were too gross and too reckless to be true.” But Marcos can bomb Plaza Miranda, declare martial law to stay in power indefinitely and to plunder the economy to the tune of $10 Billion, kill, torture and detain without due process 75,000 hapless victims, assassinate his “chief rival’ at the airport, cheat Cory in the elections, falsify his war records…did I miss out anything? But the yellow enforcer De Lima can’t possibly be a drug lord coddler as that would be too gross, reckless and soulless to be true? If there is such a thing as congenitally pathological logic, this must be it.

    • I strongly agree with your comment. Journalist/writers are just Like lawyers, which side are they depending.