OPINION: Does Congress still represent the people?

Buddy Gomez -- Cyberbuddy

Posted at Jul 25 2020 02:40 AM

“We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God” have the power to conquer, tame and reform congressional malfeasance and malevolence.

Why must the sovereign people tolerate and suffer inequities committed against their better interests, wishes and well-being by their supposedly elected legislative agents? 

Never has our country been so aggressively, so in-your-face assaulted by her very own Congress such as in the instance of the twin cause celebres: the Anti-Terror Law and the ABS-CBN franchise denial. 

The people have spoken against both issues, more than just eloquently and sincerely, yet their supposedly elected representatives refused to heed their call. That is betrayal!

An overwhelming collective conscientious objection has been manifested by a genuine representation of the people’s broadest cross section. Undeniably, such manifestation is truly more representative of public sentiment than the precipitate arrogance of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. This public wish has been ignored, blatantly waylaid and intentionally disregarded. That is congressional abuse of power. 

The gall, insensitivity, hubris and deceit in the era of this Covid-19 pandemic was patent in the push for their self-serving malevolence instead of respecting the people’s expressed will. It is so painfully obvious that Congress no longer represents the best interests of the people. That congressional perfidy is traitorous!

What ought we do then? Have we become a nation of sheep? 

I have lived long enough and know sufficiently of our historical past to be able to confidently say that there never was a national instance when unanimity of sentiment has been expressed so simultaneously by the predominating majority over a cause celebre. Immense public interest have united the people! The business community and its many chambers and associations, the church and the conference of bishops, the schools and the academe, the professions, the youth and, in fact, the suffering everyman have identified with the cause against a wayward Congress. 

When has a law ever been passed by Congress only to be faced with 16 suits filed by a highly respected array of Filipino eminences before the Supreme Court? They include retired justices and constitutionalists, professors of law and community leaders all united in defense of Filipino constitutional rights. For sure, nothing less than the egregious nature of this contested legislation and its impact upon human rights could have aroused such patriotic passion from otherwise patient and prudent voices of protest. 

Still, another instance. Never have congressmen ever been captured in flagrante on audio-video technology conspiring to commit a crime! For that was what the despicable trio of Congressmen Defensor, Marcoleta and Remulla, gloating inquisitors of ABS-CBN, were scheming to further raid the assets of the broadcast media they already publicly pilloried and denied an existence. Here it is: 

Irrefutable evidence of that shocking cabal.

Taming and reforming Congress must happen now! Maintaining its current composition is simply throwing good money, much needed and serving better ends elsewhere, after bad! 

According to Wikipedia, the country’s 18th Congress is presently composed of 304 Representatives (244 by District and 60 Party Listers). For a country with a population of 110 million, that translates to the expense, the financial upkeep and support of one Representative -- all out of the people’s pockets -- for a representational average of 354,000 citizens, more or less. Honestly now, are the citizen/taxpayers really getting their money’s worth? For whose benefit does the House of Representative truly exist anyway?

Has anybody ever asked why such a ratio? Why not one congressperson for every 500,000 instead. Or, for that matter, why not one for every 1,000,000? At 500,000 citizens per, we can reduce the number of Representatives to just 220. If it were 1,000,000, we will only need 110 Representatives. Next, you may even want to ask: Do we really need Congress? Let us recall that when we ventured into self-governance as a Commonwealth, our legislature was unicameral. The framers of the original 1935 Constitution created a legislature that the Philippine economy could afford.

Let me reiterate the comparison I alluded to last week. In the world’s wealthiest country, the United States, their ratio of representation in their House of Representatives is 747,000 citizens for every elected U.S. Representative. 

Normally, and such is the universal practice specially in better endowed democracies, a House of Representatives has a Speaker and one Deputy, the Speaker Pro Tempore. This was a system adhered to by our political elders and in our past, the matter of legislation was attended to honorably, desirably. 

Today, the position of Speaker Pro Tempore has been eliminated. But why in damnation must we have twenty-two (22) Deputy Speakers? Twenty-two! No other legislative body in the world has such a stupid abundance of overlapping congressional sinecures. 

We may be taking it for granted and thus missing to consider a food for serious thought. Today, when we are enjoying mightily useful advances in information technology, people are truly enabled to speak for themselves in addressing and redressing concerns with government, directly and more effectively, without need of being represented by an intermediary. That is reality. How much representation and how many representatives do we really need. Think!

Imagine if the union and unanimity of all conscientious objectors to the Anti-Terror Law and to the closure of ABS-CBN: the business community and its many chambers and associations, the church and the conference of bishops, the schools and the academe, the professions, the youth and, the suffering everyman wayward Congress were to be harnessed and marshalled towards correcting Congress! People’s Initiative NOW!

Let us never forget. “We, the sovereign Filipino people” possess that power. 

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.