Or why the Philippine legislature is quite unlike any other, the world over.
There is an unspoken impact upon our democracy that is manifestly oozing out of the acrimony arising from the unabashed attempt of this administration to molest the innocents. I am speaking of the Malacañang-mandated legislative assault upon the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR) that is presently afire. Reducing the same to age 9, at first, and as if responding to public clamor, then to 12.
The manipulative proceedings forebodingly look grim because underlying circumstances point to a menace that, unless arrested, can only lead towards erosion of the constitutional principle of “checks and balances,” that sacred anchor of democracy.
Does anyone ever remember, even harking back to the days of dictator Marcos, of any other Philippine legislative event punctuated by an openly sordid admission of servitude to the Presidency, on the part of lawmakers? In fact, such display of shameless obsequiousness, in reference to the MACR, was uttered by the former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, now the very Speaker of our House of Representatives. “Because the President wants it…….since the beginning I said my agenda is the President’s agenda,” she is on record as having stressed.
Is it a blatant sell-out, albeit spoken without a hint of embarrassment nor a tinge of blushing? Why? Might such public political caress for the Presidential ego be a finessed gesture, only an astute Gloria can perform, be a hidden message of real gratitude. Gratitude for what? Gloria in debt to Rodrigo?
It is easy to remember that the absolution of all the crimes ‘la Gloria’ was accused of happened after June 30, 2016. She was arrested and kept in guarded military hospital detention for nearly 5 years. Gloria’s absolution and freedom came during Duterte’s reign. Who is the brave soul, prepared to wail that such absolution was truly not handed down because of Duterte’s reign?
Not to be outdone, the Senate President, Vicente Sotto III, in a rather itchy-hasty campaign mode (even before the official campaign period’s starting gun is legally fired), had his own pro-“child molestation” pronouncement in support of ‘la Gloria’s MACR stand. Sotto “urged the public to vote for senatorial candidates running in the May midterm elections who support the proposal to lower the minimum age of criminal liability from 15 to 12 years old.”
Now, somewhat similarly, what does Sotto have to be grateful to Duterte for? Oh, I am sorry. I forgot that Sotto became Senate President during the reign of Duterte. Will Sotto be brave enough to yell to the ends of the earth that it was through his personal merit and mettle that he is Senate President?
Does it not look to you, dear naïve folks, that “gratitude” has taken on a dismal dimension under Duterte?
It was almost irresistible not to refer to Congress as a puppet sideshow in Philippine politics. Except that they do belong to the main event of the three-ring big tent circus that our country’s politics has been led to. Then, I also remembered that administration politicos decried being referred to as lapdogs, lackeys, robots, or ‘tuta.’ Hence, “Marionettes!
Was it not reasonable then to ask: Why the Philippine legislature is quite unlike any other, the world over! Well, why not? Where else in the world? Let us take a look.
The Speaker of the House is a former President of the Republic, who during her incumbency was dubbed “the most corrupt,” as reported by Reuters, quoting the results of a national poll. Among the cases pending against her before the reign of Duterte were: aside from the “electoral sabotage” during the 2007 midterm elections, there were the $130 million overprice tucked into a $330 million National Broadband Network deal with the notorious Chinese entity ZTE Corporation (subsequently withdrawn); the Ph728 million fertilizer fund purchase scam; the misuse of the Ph366 million intelligence fund of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office; the Ph530 million transfer of Medicare funds to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation for electioneering purposes. No other President with such magnitude of felonies has been so accused, brought to court, arrested and detained. No other such prospective, potential convict-to-be has ever been elevated to such political heights by any country in the world!
The Senate President, on the other hand, and we can sincerely agree that he is a benign presence alongside “la Gloria.” He is unscathed by any filed criminal accusations. His misfortune, however, which doubles as his ticket to electable popularity, oddly enough, is a much earlier television career. During those not exactly innocent ‘salad days’ he performed, mostly, as a ‘toilet-humor’ comedian. Already as a senator, he was accused of plagiarism. Mishandled and badly refuted, the accusation has irredeemably stuck!
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Vicente Sotto III. No Congress, no parliament nor legislative body, the world over has ever been so accursed as their Philippine counterpart.
The public debate over the age of discernment among minors or MACR has given us the occasion to assess the perfidious role being played by our House of Representatives and the Senate in the life of the nation. By spoken phrases and physical postures, as evidenced by Congressional attitude towards the MACR, it is patent that the representatives of the people have been in the lock of presidential embrace.
A brief return to basic “Civics,” before we go. Let us re-educate ourselves. The maintenance of a functioning democracy is anchored upon a system of “checks and balances.” It is a constitutional principle mandated to prevent any branch of government or any person in government from becoming too powerful. Are we not now witnesses to the brutal use of power? We are now facing the desecration of a constitutional mandate that is of fundamental importance: the abject surrender of “checks and balances” by the very representatives of the people elected to protect and preserve it.
Is it not uncanny that the future of our democracy is the hands of today’s ‘innocents?’ Funny, and perhaps threateningly tragic, that the fate over their age of discernment is being controlled by unseen sinister hands manipulating an all too willingly complicit Congress of Marionettes.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.