The common saying “quality over quantity” applies to many aspects of life, including governance. Whenever one proposes to increase the number of public representation, this line comes to mind.
The saying applies to the suggestion of former senator Juan Ponce Enrile, now chief presidential legal counsel, to double the number of senators from the current 24 to 48 primarily because of the increasing Philippine population. He said the country continues to have 24 senators since the adoption of the 1935 Constitution when there were 12 million Filipinos. He said that with today’s population at over 100 million, the number of senators should be increased to 48.
“At the time of the adoption of the 1935 Constitution, we were only 12 million people. Now, we are more than 100 million people. If we are going to increase the number of senators, I would suggest that we double the present number. From 24 to 48 and of that 48, 16 will go out every two years to be elected by the people, so that new, fresh and modernized minds will enter the system to contribute to the intellectual capability or the academic capability of the remaining members,” Enrile said before the Senate committee on constitutional amendments.
Enrile believes that doubling the number of senators would lead to better representation of the legislative needs of the country. He cited “intellectual capability or academic capability” as among the attributes of a senator. But will having more senators equate to relevant and correctly-prioritized legislation?
The current composition of the Senate leads us to question whether having more of the likes of those in the chamber who have no government experience or working knowledge of legislation be able to answer the people’s needs.
Quality over quantity comes to mind because having more does not always bring the best results. Not when the new senators would need time to learn the basics of governance and legislation at the taxpayers’ expense and time. That learning process for the newbies will come as Filipinos are burdened by urgent must-dos such as higher prices and diminishing supply of goods.
There are other reasons for defeating Enrile’s suggestion. This proposal may not even end with the Senate because there is also the House of Representatives that could take the hint and follow up their dreams of membership expansion. House members will use the same argument about increasing population in their districts needing representation.
Having more elected officials means more expenses at a time when the nation’s debt increased and the value of the peso against the US dollar plummeted from P52.60 last May when President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was elected to P58.40 as of Friday morning, Sept. 23, 2022. What resources we have should be used to meet the urgent needs of the country.
Quality over quantity and organized priorities. These should be the mantra of people in government.
September 24, 2022
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