REMEMBER an item I wrote sometime back about my dream being a beat reporter once more and I was covering the Senate. I dreamt I was covering 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 Robin Padilla 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. End of my dream.

I can’t fully understand by until the Filipino voters keep sending square pegs in the hallowed halls of an institution reserved for the intellectuals, statesmen and patriots. 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, Lorenzo Sumulong, Gil J. Puyat, Raul Manglapus, Roseller Lim, Alejandro Almendras, Benigno Aquino, Francisco Soc Rodrigo, Helena Benitez, Eva Estrada Kalaw and more.

Hopefully, in the forthcoming elections, voters will be more discerning and vote for those most qualified. Repeat. Candidates who are intellectually prepared, statesmen and patriots. They really love our country. Not those perks and privileges of a senator. In the running which I will include in my list when I go to the polls in May are Gilberto Teodoro, former Philippine National Police General Guillermo Eleazar, former Senator Cruz Escudero, Senators Migz Zubiri, Richard Gordon. I am still open to more, but I am still studying them closely.

The Senate is one of the enduring political institutions, which started in Rome. As I said, more than 500 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 these 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.

As I said earlier, if the present crop that composes 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. May this article serve as a good reminder that in 2022 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 much-needed infrastructures and huge amounts to utilize to fight the pandemic.