Our Legislative Disaster-A A +A
An Independent View
Friday, October 25, 2013
WHAT do we want from our legislators? We want our legislators to understand current problems and to represent our interests when addressing these problems. We also expect then to show leadership qualities which means that they may see solutions with a clarity which we may not have.
There is no need for legislators to handle public money. Our systems, for example for student grants, should be handled impersonally by the bureaucracy.
If we have a Congressman who believes that we should have computers in schools, he should say so. The role of Information Technology in our education system then becomes part of the national conversation and eventually, we hope, a policy is arrived at, via a Republic Act which has been drafted by our legislators.
This is a bad example. The House of Representatives passed House Bill 6643 which specified the prominent role of Information Technology necessary from our education system to be globally competitive. Senate agreed. But the resulting Republic Act 10533 which provides amendments to our existing education system determined by the 1982 Education Act.
Congress did not pass RA 10533.
Congress has allowed itself to be sidelined.
Congress is venal. It has been bribed by the president. We are in a state of government dysfunctionality similar to that we saw in the previous president’s term.
Bribes have undermined the separation of powers embodied by the Constitution.
The Constitutions of the Philippines and of the United States of America have the same origins, namely the 1787 meetings when Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers assembled the Constitution of the United States.
Implementing the US Constitution has resulted in gridlock where the US Congress, by refusing to pass the 2014 Budget proposed by President Obama resulted in an impasse. It could be argued that the President has too little power.
In the Philippines the well-meaning 1987 Constitution becomes sidelined because the legislative branch has allowed itself, substantially by bribery, to be dominated by the Executive Branch. The president has too much power because of the vulnerability of our legislators to the power of the purse.
We need to redress the balance. Theoretically this can be done by abolishing presidential payouts to Congressmen. In practice this is impossible because our Congressmen would never pass such legislation!
PNoy’s ratings are slipping. The most recent poll, based on interviews carried out in September, showed a 15 point drop. If there are further declines in the public popularity in subsequent ratings, this may not influence PNoy overmuch but it may affect the 2016 presidential contest. Senator Koko Pimentel III says that Filipinos should vote for a leader who is not tainted with corruption. Who is he referring to? Himself?!
Corruption is probably the No.1 issue in the minds of voters. Others may say that poverty eradication is more important but as PNoy has stated, poverty stems from a corrupt society.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 25, 2013.