Thursday, September 23, 2021

Sangil: Senators then, senators now: They now pale in comparison

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“I HAD a dream.” I am copying now the famous line of American human rights activist Martin Luther King. His was serious, but mine, it happened in my sleep and it’s somewhat comical and nightmarishly stressful. Thank a God I woke up in time.

I dreamt that I was assigned by my editor to cover proceedings at the Senate, and lo and behold who do I found there. Manny Pacquiao was the Senate President and Lito Lapid was the majority floor leader. Newly elected senator Willie Revillame was debating with Bong Revilla while Bong Go and Bato De La Rosa were busy on their cellphones. Nancy Binay and Cynthia Villar were discussing how to cook adobo. And as usual Frank Drilon was slouched on his chair and was in deep slumber. It shifted to the hallway and President Duterte and Antonio Trillanes were both in martial arts positions and Dick Gordon was refereeing. There was a thud, and that made me wake up and I was perspiring all over.

Don’t our people miss senators the likes of Miriam Defensor Santiago, Nene Pimentel, Blas F. Ople, Joker Arroyo and Juan Flavier? And earlier, there were members of the upper house like Arturo Tolentino, Ambrosio Padilla, Lorenzo Tanada, Raul Manglapus, Roseller Lim, Alejandro Almendras, Benigno Aquino, Ferdinand Marcos, Francisco Soc Rodrigo, Helena Benitez, Eva Estrada Kalaw and more. I think you’ll say, NO COMPARISON. Row four ba kamo yung nasa itaas?

I had the opportunity to travel to Rome some years back and I was fascinated by the stories around the Roman Senate which is one of the most enduring political institutions in Roman history. I roamed the streets of Rome in a Roman holiday and was awed by the magnificence of the Roman Forum which until today is still around surrounded by ruins of several buildings built even before Christianity was discovered. This is where more than five centuries ago high caliber senators of the Roman Republic assembled in their senate and deliberated intelligently. Mediocrity had no place there.

The Senate is one of the enduring political institutions which started in Rome. As I said, more than five hundred years earlier names like Caius Bruttius, Orestes, Marcus, Cicero and those brilliant men in white robes argued and debated passionately with the best interest of Rome at heart. No nincompoops. And there were no PDAF or pork barrel in those ancient times. And in this modern times, the so-called SOPs which in reality is kickback draw popular figures like movie stars, athletes, TV and radio personalities to vie for a senate seat. Non discerning voters placed them there at the upper house.

And if the present crop that compose the Philippine senate today were already in that era, sans for few, the others will not qualify even to wash the feet of those men in white robes. This article maybe a good reminder that in any elections, the voters should be careful in electing persons who are not supposed to be there and yet draw salaries, pork barrel in tens of millions of pesos and enjoy perks and privileges underwritten by our taxes. Taxes which are supposed to build, roads, ports, schools and the much needed infrastructures.


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