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.