The confluence of the COVID-19 pandemic visited upon the Philippines, coming as it has done, at the very juncture of cyberspace interconnectivity introducing impositions and new practices into our society, have created a reality that teems with beneficent opportunities. That we must adapt is inevitable.
Change is now reality! (No, no, no -- not Duterte’s psychotic panegyrics about change-a-coming!) Opportunities abound, they beckon. Alterations in human attitude, behavior, action and reaction, new norms and styles are beginning to sprout dominating how we live. Collective national civil leadership, (again, no, no, no – not Duterte’s gangsterism) and “we, the people,” jointly, must marshal the fortitude to gear up and benefit from this change and its opportunities.
Let me cite what I find to be the most obvious: distance presence and representation replacing person-to-person contact, in order to get things done, and for life to go on! Work-from-home arrangements; business transactions and communications; distance education and healthcare.
Do we see new vistas opening?
Half a century ago, the foregoing were the realm of ‘futuristics.’ Teleconferencing which we now alternately call ‘zooming,’ ‘viber’ or ‘face time;’ internet/digital legal documentation; even medical attention via newfangled telecommunications technology (teletech-med). As it turns out it, what Alvin Toffler advocated in his “Future Shock” (1970) as "too much change in too short a period of time," has arrived. As it turns out, it is no longer a “shock” as they are very “today!”
What are we to do? What am I leading up to? I posit that the cyber-digital-internet age has already vitiated the old-hat paradigm of democratic representation in the political management of national affairs. Let me explain.
On the day that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte was declared winner of the May 9, 2016 Presidential elections, his party, PDP-Laban, had only three elected members in the House of Representatives. By the time he took his oath of office at noon of June 30, President Duterte had complete control of the Lower House!
All hell began to break loose because a Faustian House of Representatives sold its collective soul to what turned out to be the devil incarnate masquerading as attractive populism. Who can ever doubt now that it is the House of Representatives that, in fact, has enabled President Rodrigo R. Duterte to unleash his Mephistophelian proclivities? Who can ever doubt that without this criminal congressional complicity there would not be a satanically-enabled Duterte rapacious attack upon the very Constitution he was sworn to uphold, defend and protect?
This House of Representatives committed the most egregious collective political perfidy ever committed against the better interests of the nation. Yet, when Duterte is gone and done, as indeed he will be, this House of ill-repute will still be around! Can the people continue to tolerate and thus abet, keeping unreformed and uncontrolled this constitutional body that no longer serves the purpose for which the people created it?
Serious fiscal wonks and honest economists will tell you easily, and without blinking, that Congress is an expense that the Filipino taxpayer can no longer afford.
Let me pose this question: Do we really need the present number of representatives to supposedly represent the people’s interest? There is no mandate from heaven nor from Mother Nature, much less from science, that we must suffer a body of 304 elected individuals (243 Congressional district representatives and 61 party-listers). Why not, by people’s mandate, wisely bring down that number to just half! Or even just about a third? Just imagine that the fiscal savings can better be reallocated to solve poverty, instead of voraciously lining up the pockets of rascals!
The incumbent numbers of the so-called ‘people’s representatives’ were man-made arbitrarily and was a matter of feather-bedding accommodations. Man-made that ratio of representation was, man-made that ratio can be undone! Sadly, no one has ever questioned its utility! Sadly, we are now saddled by a House of Representatives that, by its present composition and disposition, has become a national moral issue.
Kindly note that the world’s greatest and most advanced economy, the USA, have Congressmen/women who each represent more than twice the number that each of our Congressmen represent! Another example: Texas (were it an independent nation, it would be the 10th largest in the world) has a Congress that meets only once every two years, with a specified agenda taken up in sessions limited to no more than 140 days! Possibilities? Please think.
No other House of Representatives in the history of our country has ever been so complicit in the Presidential abuse and prostitution of constitutional democracy and the rule of law. Beyond forgiveness, I am unable to erase from memory the humiliating mockery and abuse this Congress, in a congressional setting, had heaped upon the person of Senator Leila de Lima; and as well, who is not disturbed by the burlesque and circus antics attending the disfranchisement of ABS-CBN?
I have a very simple proposal. I beg for resolute togetherness among all concerned citizens, the masses called upon. Let us call upon all of civil society comprising of all businesses, schools, the studentry, the churches, civil service, acting in unison, for irreducible congressional reform. Repeat, the House of Representatives is a moral issue.
Folks, please consider a People’s Referendum for one particular Constitutional Amendment that encompasses exclusively the following:
a) Limiting the number of Representatives to no more than 150, until by people’s mandate revised;
b) Abolishing all party-list representation;
c) Disqualifying all incumbent congressmen from running for re-election in the next succeeding elections.
If indeed it shall come to pass that the foregoing represents the genuine consensus and desire of the people, why not a fruition by way of a People’s Referendum?
“We, the people” possess the power, and the solemn obligation, to cleanse national dirt!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tomas 'Buddy' Gomez III began his professional media career in ABS-CBN's (previously Chronicle Broadcasting Network) DZQL-Radio Reloj in 1957, after which he spent 25 years with the Ayala Group.
In 1986, the then Pres. Cory Aquino appointed him Consul General to Hawaii and later served as her Press Secretary.
During the Ramos administration, he was chairman and president of state-owned IBC-13 Network.
After government service, he became an ‘OFW’ in the U.S., working as front-desk clerk and then assistant general manager of a hotel. He also worked as a furniture and antique restoration specialist.
He is now retired and lives in San Antonio, Texas.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.