The Legislature is Busted

I think Angry Maude’s rant the other day got my blood boiling, too.

The Philippine Legislature is busted. The floor of the House and Senate are rat-pits of acrimony and showmanship. And really horrible ethics and productivity.  I’d recommend young people of the Philippines “duck and cover” rather than study the ways and means of the mud-stuck Senate or pork-motivated House.
Like the courts, which take 25 years to act on some cases, the Legislature cannot seem to get unstuck on any bill where there is objection. The Senate spends its time on the floor, not debating the final points of legislation, but mucking about in detail, fishing for solutions, like so many prosecutors dredging up information on CJ Corona in court rather than out of court.
Evidently there is no staff process, the backroom delegating and dealing that assigns competent staff the role of negotiating agreements on language. The staff appear to be engaged in the plagiarizing and writing of showmanship speeches.
The House is no more encouraging.
You can watch the allegiances of the House membership dance and move as Representatives track like a school of sharks sniffing blood in the water, following the Pork. Patriotism, thy name is peso.
We’ve beaten and battered Senator Sotto for two weeks, upset at his plagiarism and blame-mongering.  But he is still stealing other people’s work and claiming it as his own thinking. The latest from the honorable JFK (John F Kennedy). I’m tired of Senator Sotto, our local Lord Voldemort, as a reader so aptly described him.
Think through who he is and what he is doing.
He is the majority leader. He represents the best of the best behind Senate President Enrile who bounces between dignity and partisanship like a government issued yoyo. Alas, the yoyo was issued while the grandfather of self-service in the name of patriotism was still around promoting his morality. That would be President Aguinaldo.
The esteemed Senator Sotto takes four speeches to state his objection to the HR Bill. Four. Over the course of two weeks. He holds court over the Senate, over the press, over the People. He holds court until the HR Bill is set aside.
A one-man wrecking crew.
You and I, if we objected to the HR Bill, could state the objection in 10 minutes. Me, much less.
Here would be my objection speech:
  • “Hey, Ladies and Gents of the esteemed maroon Senatorial robe, the Government has no business peddling condoms. And there are laws in place already that protect women’s health. We don’t need another that will just overlay confusion on our health services. The Executive Office has powers. It has a Department of Education. Use them and let us get on with some important new initiatives. Like the Divorce Bill and FOI Bills and amending the Constitution to speed foreign money into the fuel tank of our economic machine. Let’s put this baby up for vote and abort the stinker. Thank you for using your common sense. I yield the floor.”

32 seconds.

The Senate is so stuck on protocol and process that it can’t get the people’s work done. It has become an institution that is heading directly toward irrelevancy. Even the Ethics Committee is unethical, refusing to act hold Senator Sotto to higher values.
“Duck and cover, kids. Duck and cover!”
The House, ah, the House. Bright young people, eh? Lots of them, and every damn one of them has two thoughts and two thoughts only: (1) how can I leverage myself into the Presidency, and (2) how can I get more pork money, to leverage myself into the Presidency.
We former business executives recognize the pedigree easily. These are the young, bright people who come into the office looking for a job. Great portfolio, on paper. Impeccable college and work experience. They say all the right things during the interviews. But on the job, they have no discipline. No patience. They are so ambitious that they lose enthusiasm for the work that needs to be done. They can’t concentrate on today’s output because they are busy dreaming about the next promotion.
That’s the House in a nutshell. No enthusiasm for the job that needs to be done. No concentration.
Overly ambitious office workers last about 18 months on the job before quitting and running off in search of greener and faster pastures.
House people also lose enthusiasm and stop showing up at on the floor. Have you seen Colonel Doctor Champ Pacquiao there lately? He’s one guy for sure already dreaming of the presidency.
And so they coast.
They bide their time, looking for ways to shine.
My Filipino friends, our Legislature is busted and there is no one here who can fix it. You can’t fix a rat’s nest or a snake’s den or a hornet swarm with a hope and a prayer.
It is best to go around these barriers to progress, these inert democratic irrelevancies, if we hope to achieve anything progressive.

More on that later.

18 Responses to “The Legislature is Busted”
  1. Here is a story from New York Daily News"In New York City, we go to Broadway when we want to watch a good show. If you live in the rest of the country, you need to look no further than Washington to see another kind of theater — that of the political sort.On deck this week was a bill called the Paycheck Fairness Act, designed specifically by Democrats as a tool to use against Republicans who vote against it in upcoming elections……The vote did fail, but that didn’t stop the drama leading up to the stunt.“If Congress passes the Paycheck Fairness Act, women are going to have access to more tools to claim equal pay for equal work,” proclaimed President Obama. “If they don’t — if Congress doesn’t act — then women are still going to have difficulty enforcing and pressing for this basic principle.”That is hardly true. There are already three more-than-sufficient laws on the books to protect women: the 1963 Equal Pay Act and 1964 Civil Rights Act, both of which prohibit gender-based pay discrimination. In addition, in 2009, Congress passed the Lilly Ledbetter Act to ensure “equal pay for equal work.”"Now, here is some news from the Archipelago:Beng: Magna carta of women is enough"Cong. Climaco further explained that the RH Bill is neither urgent nor necessary since the Magna Carta for Women, specifically Sec. 17 thereof, already addresses most of the issues sought to be addressed by the RH Bill, such as : maternal care covering pre-and post-natal services; responsible methods of family planning; youth sexuality education and health services; prevention and management of sexually-transmitted infections and reproductive tract cancers and other gynecological disorders; and prevention of abortion and management of pregnancy-related complications."The Executive branch has the solemn obligation to implement the laws of the land. There is the Department of Justice which should be actively prosecuting local government units, education and health officials who do not implement Section 17 of the Magna Carta of Women.

  2. Thanks for the links, Angel. Indeed, I used some of your prior arguments in my objection to the RH Bill, as succinctly and obnoxiously stated in the article. And I agree that overlapping laws aimed at the same accomplishment are not constructive.

  3. I just posted a comment on Raissa Robles' blog and wanted to insert it here. Her article is about Senator Sotto plagiarizing JFK. My view:"You see the problem with us is we understand the principle of honor. The legal issues of stealing the ideas can be set aside. It is the absence of honor in this Senator that is so outrageous. And the absence of honor extends to the Senate ethics panel. And the whole of the Senate.In a debate about values, Senator Sotto displays the lowest form. It is easy to see why the Philippines is a lawless land of corruption and extrajudicial murders and people flipping the bird at laws."

  4. Anonymous says:

    I think it's Robert Kennedy, not JFK, to be precise.DocB

  5. Anonymous says:

    There is something positive here, JoeAm. We all know Congress is busted and peopled mostly by bullshitters. We all know that. We'd be surprised if it weren't. But look here, the Impeachment sort of redeemed it but now it's back to its old ways. The positive thing is the Outrage generated by media and the blogosphere. Where before we're suffering in silence, now we can openly shame its members, even JPE.DocB

  6. Cha says:

    My sentiments exactly, DocB. Freedom of expression is a two way street; on the one side walk the likes of Sotto who speak and reveal themselves for the fools that they really are and on the other side are those who speak the truth and reveal the better side of our humanity

  7. Anonymous says:

    Agree with you, Cha. Were Sotto silent we wouldn't have known what a great fool he is. What's surprising was the outrage. Keep on tapping, guys…DocB

  8. Ah, very good. Yes. And I'm glad that Big Brother, the internet watch dog, is on the side of the people.

  9. Cha says:

    From today: Spell it out in all schools, Congressmen tell Dep Ed, 'honesty is the best policy'.The Congressmen are asking DepEd to mount a campaign to promote a "culture of honesty" in all schools through House Bill 895. They want Dep Ed to post signages saying "Honesty is the best policy" in all elementary and high school classrooms across the country.Are the Congressmen trying to send a message to their colleagues in the Upper House? Or are they just so clueless as not to recognise the irony of their newfound interest and commitment to this value that is honesty given the plagiarism ruckus in the Senate?May I suggest they send a couple of those signages to the kopyamaniac Senator and the rest of his peers. His staff probably deserve some, too. Oh and it wouldn't hurt to keep one for each Congressman, by the way. The more the merrier.I hope the Senators and Congressmen do not take offense at my forthrightness, perhaps even bluntness. After all, honesty is the best policy.

  10. Yes, the discussion on this has always been inside the legislature. But the Executive branch is at fault, perhaps, even a greater one, for not implementing the laws. Where is the support for family planning in the proposed budget?, for example. Where is the comprehensive health information and education in DepEd's K to 12 that would deal with family planning? The Magna Carta is already the law. Congress can pass laws as much as it can but without the Executive branch, all these laws are waste of time and are simply for show.

  11. You know, I have come to agree with you, Angel. Thanks for propping my eyes open.

  12. Is it called irony? Or hypocrisy? Or tragedy? Sounds like characters in a Greek play. That can be our next joint writing project.

  13. Cha says:

    All of the above 🙂

  14. chohalili says:

    Mr. Joe America, come on relax, take a vacation have fun with your wife and new son. Life is too short, Philippines is reproducing fast. Already you have three generation on you and the cause we are fighting for will take another 50 years. By then you will have two generation of grand kids and they will be following the same rules as their great grandmother and great grandfather, who ever give the biggest bag of rice gets the votes. People who rallies with you are not even in the Philippines, they are in the comfort of their mortgages homes and BMW, Audi & Lexus. People you are trying to reach don't even have access to newspapers, computers, and cafe. They don't care they let all these politicians ran amok. BTW GMA is already forming her gang, starting with Rivella, Lapid, Santiago, Enrile and Joker Arroyo.

  15. Yes, I've also noticed a collection of rats around the garbage in my back yard.

  16. Edgar Lores says:

    Filipinos have little or no concept of honor. According to one of the comments in Raissa's blog, honor is not an internal attribute of the Filipino. I tend to agree.The meaning of honor is respect. I would extend that to mean respect of self and respect of others. As to the first, we say "to honor one's word". As to the second, we say "your honor".Looking at Robredo's dichotomy of Matuwid and Mahusay, one can classify the first as Heart and the second as Mind. On first analysis, Honor (or Marangal) would be subsumed under Heart. On second thought, I would classify it as part of the union of Heart and Mind. Very much like the quality of Integrity. I would go so far as to say Honor is the shining armour of Integrity.It is interesting to note that honor is usually associated with a code, a code of honor, which in the USA is about the prevention of cheating. Here is a quote from Rollins College that Sotto should be mindful of: "On my honor, I have not given, nor received, nor witnessed any unauthorized assistance on this work."Sotto has no honor, neither as a candidate for senator who vowed to serve the people nor as a senator who mocks ethical behavior.

  17. I surmise that a lot of Filipinos do know what honor means, based on the outrage expressed about Sotto. I'm wondering, however, if placed in similar circumstances they would take the easy and self-benefiting choice (like buy a pirated CD versus the honorable one and respect the artist who made the original, and pay what the honorable market says his work is worth).

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