Wednesday July 18, 2018

Cabaero: Because they can

THE proposals are so outrageous they make you wonder why our elected representatives even thought of them.

First, it was for Congress members to be exempt from arrest for minor traffic violations committed on their way to work. Second, it was to create a separate police force exclusively for Congress members. Both proposals were initiated by House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas who expressed concern over the welfare and security of legislators.

Fariñas made the first proposal during a hearing of the House committee on transportation last month. He said a congressman who commits a minor traffic violation on the way to a session should not be brought to the police precinct as doing so would prevent him or her from attending the session.

Opposition lawmakers were quick to reject this saying the exemption from arrest would be a privilege not allowed by law and one that is open to abuse.

Days later, Fariñas came up with a proposal for the creation of a Congress police force to be separate and independent from existing law enforcement bodies such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and National Bureau of Investigation. He said the Congress police would be patterned after the United States model where agents report directly to the legislative branch.

This proposal for a Philippine Legislative Police was not necessary and would only increase the government budget, some lawmakers said. They added that the move could lead to a rise in private armies.

Why Fariñas even came up with these ideas is bewildering because these proposals do not serve the people. They only serve as reminders of the boldness of some of those in power. There are legislators who agree with Fariñas and are bound to vote in his favor.

The reason Fariñas and his like-minded colleagues favor these proposals is because they can. They know when they put forward ideas, no matter how outrageous, that they can have them approved. There have been measures that have passed because of the say-so of the leadership and because the majority can.

If they are not dissuaded by the outrageousness of their proposals, they will continue to think there are no limits to what they can do, because they can.

It is up to their constituents to let them know that they can’t.

There are other issues that revolve around the theme of government officials having entitlements that go against their being public servants. Some Cabinet officials have obscured parts of their statements of assets and liabilities reportedly for security reasons. They did not want the public to know information about their wealth because they could be targeted by criminals, they said. What was left unsaid was that their reason showed their distrust of police capabilities to stop crime.

Let those in government know they have to account for their actions and that they owe their positions to the people.