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Election lawyer: Abolish Congress

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Election lawyer: Abolish Congress

/ 12:49 AM January 24, 2014

The very dismal performance of our legislators in 2013 is enough justification to call for the abolition of Congress. Last year, Congress passed only one law, the one-page Republic Act No. 10632 which suspended the 2013 Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

Based on the 2013 national budget, the appropriation for the Senate and the House of Representatives was P3.3 billion and P6.4 billion, respectively. The budget for the Commission on Appointments, which is also composed of senators and representatives, was P500 million. The annual pork barrel of a senator was P200 million (a total of P4.8 billion for 24 senators) and that of a House member was P70 million (a total of P20.2 billion for 289 representatives).

In other words, for only one minor piece of legislation, the entire Filipino people spent the huge amount of close to P35.2 billion.

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While Congress also passed the 2014 budget in 2013, the same should not even be considered an accomplishment since it is Congress’ obligation to pass the same. As a matter of fact, the Constitution provides that if Congress fails to pass the budget law for a particular year, the budget for the preceding year is “deemed reenacted and shall remain in force and effect.”

And despite Congress’ high-profile investigations of previous years “in aid of legislation,” no significant or relevant laws have been enacted as a result of such legislative inquiries.

In year 2011, the Senate’s budget was P2.6 billion; the House’s, P8.3 billion; and the CA’s, P400 million. In 2012 the Senate’s budget was P2.9 billion; the House’s, P5.8 billion; and the CA’s, P500 million. Despite these huge budgets, 2011 and 2012 likewise did not prove to be very significant years for Congress in terms of performance. Congress had only the Reproductive Health Law and the postponement of the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to synchronize with the 2013 national and local elections, as its major pieces of legislation.

To repeat, for this barren record of performance, we spent billions and billions of pesos for  salaries and allowances, some of which could not even be audited as these could be liquidated by a mere “certification of expenditure” instead of a receipt.

It is time to let the provincial governors and mayors of highly urbanized cities form the legislative assembly. After all, these local government executives know the kind of laws needed in their respective areas. We already have enough national laws awaiting implementation and some of them have already become obsolete.

The gigantic savings that would be generated when Congress is abolished could be properly channeled to augment the much needed rehabilitation of areas badly hit by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” and to other worthy projects of the government.

—ROMULO B. MACALINTAL,

election lawyer,

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TAGS: abolition, congress, Legislation, letters
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