WHAT really is the role of a representative or congressman? This needs clarification in light of the behavior of many after they get elected or re-elected.

It goes without saying that the primary role of a congressman is to represent his district and the concerns of the people therein. But in many cases, instead of tackling the immediate or urgent concerns of their district or constituency, congressmen take up other issues that distract constituents away from problems on which they ought to be collaborating with their representatives.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

In our case, people are wondering why the first act of Representative Rufus Rodriguez (second district) and his newly elected brother, Representative Max of the Abante Mindanao Party-list, is to move to extend the terms of office of officials to four years. Perhaps they are unhappy that they were elected on the understanding that they are to serve for three years only?

Begging their pardon, this detracts from their immediate duty to address the issues affecting their constituents from Day One. Can it be that the 2nd district of Cagayan de Oro faces no problem that requires immediate attention and representation? It is certainly unlikely that nothing in or about Mindanao needs attention or urgent action by the Abamin Party-list representative.

This is not to question their right and duty to address other issues, including those concerning the nation as a whole. But there's also the duty to prioritize which ones ought to take precedence, plus there's a need to honor the principle of "consent of the governed." Given the willful and presumptuous conduct of many so-called representatives who defy the demands of accountability, the latter principle cannot be overemphasized in our times.

Lawmakers are bound to honor these principles; it was they who enacted the statutes which enshrined these in our system. They must seek the consent of the people they represent. Otherwise, a question arises about whom they represent as a matter of priority: their personal agenda or the people's?

As for identifying and prioritizing issues, the first thing the congressmen brothers, as well as newly-elected Congressman Jose Benjamin Benaldo, should be doing is hold public hearings and consultations in order to generate or validate issues they should be tackling. Unless, of course, they feel they know everything and don't need to listen to the people!