People’s Senate-A A +A
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
THIS week, the government agency that was placed at center stage by national events is the Senate. The headline read: “COA chair asks Senate to open books for audit.” The move of the Commission on Audit (COA) stems from the recent questions that arose from the imbroglio regarding Senate funds.
The matter on the use of Senate funds arose over the alleged “favoritism” of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile in in the distribution of about P30 million to Senate members last December. It was supposed to be a kind of additional “dole-out” to senators for their maintenance and operating expenses.
And since it was December, one may consider the fund, too, as Christmas bonus of sort.
But while the Senate President’s move may have been traditional, he is believed to have erred in not giving each member equal share. The Senate chief used the fund to pat his favorites’ backs while making those who are out of his favor hung their tongue out of envy, or perhaps silent rage.
A party-list member of Congress asked the other day the House of Representatives and the Senate to retract a resolution that bars COA from looking into the fund utilization of Congress.
The same resolution allowed senators to only issue certifications instead of receipts on the use of Senate funds. It also asked that government agencies should not be allowed to pass self-serving resolutions hiding their operations from public scrutiny.
Part of the audit is “the review of the additional P1.6 million MOOE given to every senator except to four--Sens. Miriam Defensor Santiago, Pia Cayetano, Antonio Trillianes IV and Alan Peter Cayetano. Thus, in a manner of speaking, since this issue surfaced before the face of the Senate President, it came about as sort of rebound from a political “trickery” in the form of strategy.
But the real point at issue here is the Senate as an erstwhile august agency of government whose members command the highest form of respect from our people. When you are a member of the Senate, you are taken as one of the senior leaders of the nation.
That is why, in his time, former president Sergio Osmeña was much respected and looked up to since he was considered as among the political elders of the nation.
Today, our senators no longer have the kind of respect that our people used to bestow on them. We need to generate a new norm of political values and standard to bring back our people’s awe of the Senate.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 30, 2013.