The Top 5: Philippine Congress' Greatest Hits
Filipinos regularly make fun of their senators and congressmen, calling them "tongressmen", joking that many of them are self-important opportunists who do nothing but travel on junkets, build up their dynasties and spend pork barrel funds on themselves and their cronies.
That's not true. They also attend Manny Pacquiao fights.
Just kidding. Actually, between all their busy schedules congressmen also manage to squeeze in something called "legislation" and in fact they've racked up legislative accomplishments which many Filipinos don't know about, probably because they too have been watching Pacquiao fights (though not in the same Las Vegas hotel suites or ringside boxes that our hard-working congressmen do).
For the record there are five major legislative accomplishments we should give our solons (Latin for "male salon") proper credit for:
(1) DIE NASTY LAW
The Issue: One of the most pernicious problems of this country's political culture is the presence of strongly entrenched political families, some of which apparently date back to the Jurassic Era (and we're not saying anything, but maybe someone should investigate why the dinosaurs died off -- did it involve backhoes?)
Legislators’ action: In their wisdom, after listening to the vox populi and considering that this matter is so important it's even enshrined in a provision of the Constitution, our legislators have spoken: "screw it."
(2) LAND DEFORM
The Issue: Much of the ruling class owes its wealth to ownership of vast feudal estates that contribute to social inequality and prevent the growth of real democracy
Legislators’ action: Give away land? What would happen to the poor congressman and his family? Junior would be crushed to learn he won't be getting a hacienda and peons for Christmas. But anyway Congress is prepared to discuss this important legislation, just as soon as it finishes taking a refreshing nap...
(3) FREEDOM FROM INFORMATION ACT
The Issue: In a democracy the public and the media should have easy access to information that will let citizens know what government and elected officials like senators and congressmen are up to
Legislators’ action: What? More information?! With the Internet and all, everybody is already suffering from information overload, and it's a mess which is just confusing and bewildering everyone. Congress is concerned about sparing the public this terrible affliction called Too Much Information (TMI). Through this legislative approach, Congress prevents the public from being exposed to useless data such as congressmen's statements of assets and liabilities, government reports, economic statistics -- trivia and numbers that prevent the public from enjoying a Pacquiao fight.
(4) SIN TALKS BILL
The Issue: Liquor and tobacco should be made more expensive because right now they are so cheap that they're easily affordable to many Filipinos who indulge in these "sin" products, translating to huge health costs for both government and the public.
Legislators’ action: Congress is of course concerned about the health and welfare of Filipinos, cigarettes and liquor should be taxed appropriately pending further consultation with affected parties and stakeholders such as tobacco lobbyists, tobacco companies, more tobacco lobbyists, more tobacco companies, etc etc
(5) REPRODEFECTIVE HEALTH BILL
The Issue: Filipinos want to plan their families and their sex lives but lack the information, knowledge and health services to do so.
Legislators' action: After consulting with sexual behavior experts such as mere bloggers, the Vatican, a bunch of bishops, the Holy Ghost, etc, many congressmen have decided that Filipinos can be relied on to learn about sex on their own and therefore don't need any assistance. Government should not interfere or meddle in reproduction, a sacred and private act between a man and a woman, or a senator and his copying machine.
As you can see, Congress has been working hard . What, you don't believe it? What are you doing there, posting snarky jokes about senators on Twitter and Facebook again? Well, Congress would like to introduce you to this other legislative achievement they have. It's called the Cybercrime Libel law.