Congress fast on minor bills but…

When the current set of legislators was elected in 2010, we felt that at last we had a House of Representatives and a Senate with our interests at heart. In other words, a Congress that would get important work done. But more than two years later, what do we see?

Delays in the enactment into law of long-pending urgent bills that would strengthen democracy and curb government corruption (Freedom of Information or FOI bill); reduce maternal and infant deaths and give poor children better access to education and more chances of attaining economic success, thus helping our country meet its Millennium Development Goals, (Reproductive Health bill); and drastically improve the health and lengthen the life span of our more productive citizens while increasing government revenues (bill seeking higher sin taxes).

Instead, we see a Congress rushing a gerrymandering bill to needlessly split a province just to give continued employment to certain members of family dynasties, while it hems and haws on passing the FOI bill. We see a legislature not acting urgently on the sin tax bill, seemingly paying no attention to the suppression—allegedly by industries affected by the sin tax—of reports on conferences highlighting the dire health consequences of the growing use and consumption of tobacco and alcohol products by the young and the poor.

Thailand passed its sin tax law 20 years ago, and according to a former Thai legislator and tobacco control campaigner, it “raised enough taxes in the first year alone to build a new sky train system… while income of the tobacco producers remained stable” (“Thai doc: ‘Sin tax’ a boon to Thailand,” Inquirer, 9/10/12).

The delay in the RH bill’s passage because of the opposition of influential Catholic bishops is a throwback to the 19th century, when chloroform was used for the first time as an anesthetic in childbirth. Priests refused to permit a Romanian princess to use chloroform in the birth of her second child “because women had to suffer for the sins of Eve.”

Our legislators did pass a significant law: The Cybercrime Prevention Act. But what could have been a historical legislative milestone became a disastrous “blow against the freedom of speech in cyberspace” when a senator, accused of using plagiarized materials in his speeches and known for his reliance on “fringe science” articles on the Internet, inserted a passage from the obsolete 80-year-old libel law, rendering, for example, “a Facebook friend who ‘likes’ or shares a possibly libelous post now liable for libel” (“A blow against free speech,” Inquirer, 9/20/12).

Come election time next year, our print media could do us a great service by listing the top five pieces of legislation, top five issues and gerrymandering bills, indicating the way each of our legislators voted, so we can ensure that we vote only those who advance our legitimate aspirations.



Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=37572

Tags: bills , congress , Cybercrime Prevention Act , freedom of information bill , gerrymandering , letters , online libel , Reproductive Health Bill , Sin Tax

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Sayyaf man linked to Sipadan kidnapping falls
  • Drilon calls for sobriety as mudslinging, witch hunts loom due to pork scam
  • S. Korea ferry toll hits 150 as search gets tougher
  • If Napoles names Aquino allies, they’ll be brought to bar of justice – Palace
  • Lacson says diamond-studded earring snatched from wife fake
  • Sports

  • Wizards beat Bulls in OT to take 2-0 series lead
  • Pacers rally past Hawks 101-85 to even series
  • David Moyes out as Manchester United manager
  • Nadal to face fellow Spaniard at Barcelona Open
  • Defensive Chelsea holds Atletico in scoreless draw
  • Lifestyle

  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Sweet party for Andi Manzano
  • Entertainment

  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Summer movie preview: Bay reboots ‘Transformers’
  • Business

  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • $103M Vista Land bonds tendered for redemption
  • Oil slips to $102 as US crude supplies seen rising
  • SC stops Meralco power rate hike anew
  • Technology

  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Brazil passes trailblazing Internet privacy law
  • New York police Twitter campaign backfires badly
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • No word yet on inking of US-PH defense pact during Obama visit
  • Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  • China, rivals sign pact to ease maritime tensions
  • Visa-free US trip? Do not believe it, says consulate
  • Obama visit to Asia seen as counterweight to China
  • Marketplace