As I See It

Abolish Congress movement starts rolling

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Reacting to the clamor of the people for the abolition of the corruption-soaked pork barrel, Senate President Franklin Drilon snapped: “Let’s just abolish Congress, then.” Perhaps he thought that the people would be shocked at the thought and go easy on the demand to abolish the hated pork barrel. He thought wrong.

A group of citizens has accepted his challenge. Led by election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, the group has drafted a proposal to abolish Congress. It could be done by amending the Constitution and deleting Article VI which creates the legislative department or Congress.

But it would be only for a period of six years, from 2016 to 2022, during which the legislature would be composed of provincial governors and mayors of highly urbanized cities. But they can make laws applicable only to their respective areas of responsibility. If the six-year suspension is found to be beneficial, the abolition of Congress would be made permanent.

Macalintal explained his proposals at the Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel last Monday. With him as Kapihan guests were party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz who batted for line item budgeting, and Jose Ladera Santos, former chair of the Komisyon ng Wikang Pambansa, who accused current commission chair Virgilio Almario of tampering with official documents to make it appear that Malacañang has agreed to changing the name “Pilipinas” to “Filipinas.”

As I see it, Macalintal’s proposal is not without merit. Unlike legislative bodies in other countries, the Philippine Congress holds year-long sessions. This puts a strain on taxpayers’ money. Many other countries like China have legislatures that hold sessions only for a limited time. It is only when there are enough important proposed laws to be discussed that the legislature is called to hold sessions. The legislators have a limited time within which to act on the bills. They either pass them or pass them over before the deadline and the legislators are paid only for work done during their sessions.

In the Philippines, members of Congress are paid even when they are absent from congressional sessions, or are on vacation, or traveling abroad, or doing something else not related to their congressional duties—such as, when Sen. Bong Revilla and Sen. Tito Sotto are making movies or television shows, or when Rep. Manny Pacquiao is training for and fighting in boxing bouts—for which they earn so much money. They do not deserve, the salary and allowances—and yes, the pork barrel—that they collect from the Filipino taxpayers.

Macalintal said that during the six-year suspension of Congress, the Philippines will save P211 billion (that’s billions of pesos). That includes not only the regular salaries and allowances of senators and congressmen and their staffs, but also the pork barrel fund, and the budgets for the Commission on Appointments, the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) and the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.

Imagine what P211 billion in savings can do for the people from whom the money will come from in the first place, in the form of taxes. How many factories can P211 billion establish to provide jobs for our people who have to suffer in other countries in order to support their families here?

Macalintal estimated that P211 billion can build 180,000 classrooms, or buy 7.4 billion kilos of rice, or construct 400 kilometers of standard two-lane roads. P211 billion is almost equivalent to $5 billion which is enough to set up a modern mass transport system of about 100 kilometers in Metro Manila.

Since amending the Constitution may need congressional action, Macalintal urged that the people should start marching on the Senate and the House of Representatives to demand from our legislators for this purpose.

“If People Power was able to oust two presidents on valid and justified grounds, there is no reason why a temporary closure of Congress cannot be achieved with people airing their very legitimate demand because of the apparent involvement of a number of legislators in the P10-billion pork barrel scam and for the ineptitude or imprudence committed, or failure by other lawmakers in protecting the funds of the public,” Macalintal said.

The lawyer also lambasted the Department of Budget and Management for appropriating P125 million in the 2014 budget for the SET when there are no election protests to resolve.

The poll protest of Sen. Koko Pimentel against Sen. Migz Zubiri was resolved by the SET in August 2011. Thus, since September 2011 up to the present, a period of two years, no election contest involving a senator had to be resolved or attended to by the SET.

Of the P125-million annual budget for the SET, P67.6 million is specifically for the “adjudication of electoral contests involving members of the Senate, including administrative support”; P25.9 million for the “filling of unfilled positions”; P4.6 million for “year-end bonus”; P16.7 million for “professional services”; P2.2 million for “per diems”; and P2.2 million for “representation expenses.”

Since the General Appropriations Act (GAA) provides that such a huge portion of the SET budget be specifically allocated for the “adjudication of election protests involving members of the Senate,” a sense of delicadeza should have moved at least one senator or one justice of the Supreme Court to ask for the removal of that allocation from the Senate budget. No one did. Since September 2011 up to the present, have SET members been collecting from that allocation in GAA?

And instead of deleting SET’s budget, the DBM has a higher SET allocation for 2014 when it is clear that there is no election next year.

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  • whyinthisworld

    90 pct. of the filipinos are aware why many of them enter the arena of politics. One simple answer is easy money and take note in hundred of millions if you are so lucky by just a few number of years. Not to mention the power, popularity and other extra hidden actvities. Senators, congressmen, military, governors, mayors, dept. secretary, directors, commissioners and more are competing each other… to steal our money. They operate the government as if they own it but to make changes and improvement is far from their evil imagination. Look at BOC, DENR, DA, SSS, GSIS and all government offices including QC hall where corruption was unending agony for all of us. To abolish congress is just like cutting portion of the rotten trees. What we need now is a genuine reform, a revolution that is written in red bold ink oozing from the root nerve of our flesh body.

    • Nycnoypits

      Start with this: abolish pork barrel; then Congress n Senate either leave own volition or get abolished. Then reform others later. Strike where it’s hot.

    • benranque

      we abolish dictator marcos becoz we hated his sins. but after marcos was abolished those who hated him like his sins. this cycle remains true. we abolish congress. then those who abolished it will want to restore it. Filipinos are bred of many races that they no longer know what to do….katakataka!!!!!!!!!!!

  • blueglider

    Omg, Just at the mention of 211B saving, I know right away I will support it! YES TO CONGRESS ABOLITION!!! Even just for 6 years trial first!!! That will serve them a lesson the next time they run, if ever they still have the interest to run at all! ABOLISH CONGRESS!!! People power na to dapat!

  • ej1015

    “…the legislature would be composed of provincial governors and mayors of highly urbanized cities…” and you have to give them budget each so that they can serve their constituency and we will call it PDAF or piggy bank.

  • Walter_Peterson

    Actually, a better proposal might be to abolish the personal income tax. Then, Congress has less money to squander.

  • Eustaquio Joven

    Aside from the PDAF scam its high cost of maintenance, the quality, or lack of it, of its legislation is also a compelling reason for the abolition of Congress. It devolved agriculture and social services to the LGUs but retained the funds for its programs. So? DSWD has to allocate some P5.0B for administrative costs in implementing the CCT when it wouldn’t have to, if personnel at the local level are used instead of hiring new ones. The DA too is given so much funds for programs that the LGUs can handle more effectively.

  • napali808

    Abolish the senate and congress in that order. Prosecute the thieves and confiscate all their ill gotten wealth. Use this to fight poverty and improve our system of education so that we will have more informed and smart voters.

  • Rommel Senga

    Mas madami ang nangulimbat sa congress kesa sa senado kaya songress muna i aboilish to start the ball rolling….

  • Will

    Wow eto ang hinahanap ko na article ilang beses na ako nagcomment na dapat abolish na lang ang Congress…Go atty Macalintal we will support you..

  • antiscam

    YES ABOLISH THE CONGRESS!!! LETS BOYCOTT KAP’S AMAZING STORIES!!!

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