HAVE you ever heard of anyone suggesting that we postpone the elections for local officials because they cost money that we could use for better purposes? Has anyone ever claimed that we shouldn’t choose our senators every three years because the dates are too close to each other?

It is obvious that nobody, except those who itch to be addressed “honorable” and earn on the side from the internal revenue allotment (IRA) really takes the barangay or the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) seriously. So why don’t we just abolish them?

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

They’re just a waste of public money, anyway. As Vice President Jejomar Binay asked: What laws are passed by the barangay that we should have to elect and pay kagawads? What have the SKs shown so far except that they have become “breeding grounds for corruption”?

Don’t give me that crap about training future national leaders and bringing government closer to the people. If we’re serious about these lofty ideals, we should have done everything to keep the barangay elections non-partisan and to insulate the youth from the corrupting influence of our kind of politics.

But no. No organization is safe from the pernicious touch of politicians. That is why the supposedly non-partisan process of selecting our barangay and youth officials has become nothing more than an extension of the fight between established political factions.

That is why these politicians do not want the elections to be held this year. They’re not prepared to fund a proxy war, having just spent fortunes in the May elections.

It is not because, as the politicians claim, they want the government to save money to spend for urgent uses. Their hypocrisy is the biggest argument in favor of the abolition of the barangay and the SK.

***

You can only sympathize with Rep. Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo. It must be hellish even in a congressman’s chair listening to a colleague mouthing otherwise unprintable epithets against your mother, knowing you cannot do anything to stop the attack because it is shielded by the constitutional guarantee of parliamentary immunity.

In ancient times when honor was valued equally as life, the insult would have demanded nothing less than a challenge to a duel to the death. But that was then and it is now when honor, like virginity, is treated as just another perishable merchandise.

To the young Arroyo’s credit, he did more than just squirm in his seat. Monday, he took the floor not only to confess to the terror that he felt while his mother was being disrespected but also to dish out a few licks of his own, calling the attacks against the former president a “horrible example for younger members of Congress and neophyte lawmakers.”

Indeed, while Mrs. Arroyo may have been our most unpopular, even despised, president, that is not an excuse for the boorish behavior of her critics from the Left. It would be terribly wrong to turn a blind eye to the excesses of her administration but to raise the same at every turn and in a language fit only for fishwives can only be counterproductive.

Not that Mrs. Arroyo herself is free from blame for the sticky situation. She could have chosen to retire quietly after her term had ended and she would have spared herself the indignity of being called names by her own colleagues to her or her son’s face.

But she didn’t. Now she’s being made to pay the price, and what a price it is.

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)