Carvajal: Dignity is in the heart

Break point

CALLOUS as in cruelly insensitive to the suffering, and impertinent as in rude and disrespectful, of others were the two words that immediately came to mind when I learned that the Senate is erectingan P8 billion, but possibly P13.5 to P20 billion, spanking new building.

Senator Panfilo Lacson defended it against “small-minded critics” by claiming the building is “not for us but for those who will come after us to behave and act in the dignity of an edifice that is iconic, green, functional, and secure.” But quite frankly, I think he is small-minded in putting dignity not within the psyche of senators but in the office building they work from and, by implication, in the showy cars they ride, and expensive suits and barongs they wear, to work.

As envisioned, the building is going to have four towers representing the four pillars (?) of democracy. But how empty is that symbolism when Filipinos have no justice, no equality, no freedom and no proportional representation in government?

When finished, it will be “comparable to the US Capitol, Germany’s Reichstag and the Palace of Westminster (?).” But looking at its architectural design, those truly iconic buildings of rich countries that take good care of their citizens will pale in comparison to the only-pretentiously-iconic new Senate building of a poor country that neglects basic services to its citizens and spends more for the conveniences and luxuries of highfalutin public officials.

The symbolism is empty. People are suffering from the incompetence and neglect of a Senate that spends its time investigating and probing issues in aid of nobody knows what. Like will somebody tell me what good has come out of all the Senate investigations? Will somebody also tell me what laws senators have crafted that are not better done by close-to-ground-zero-people’s- representatives in the lower house?

Senators are useless now and will even be more useless in a federal government where state councilors will compose the equivalent of an upper house. Hence, expect them to fight tooth and nail to kill federalism. They will have much to lose for doing nothing.

Millions of rural Filipinos do not have water systems for hygiene and sanitation and to irrigate their farms. How much will it take to provide these systems to our rural folk? Maybe more than P8 billion, but if senators were not small-minded, if they had a heart for suffering Filipinos, P8 billion could translate into so many rural communities having safe drinking water systems at least.

Dignity is in the heart. The new building will symbolize nothing more than the Senate’s shameless lack of a heart. How can senators now claim to have dignity when they don’t even have a heart?


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