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Kris-Crossing Mindanao

The House of brash bullies

A Metro Manila congresswoman explains the reason why the members of the House of Representatives behave like robots. When the Speaker disses them with threats that he will turn the spigots of pork barrel off, it is enough to keep them in meek obeisance. The end of pork barrel is the end of the world for them. Scamper to safety they have to. The riches-to-rags phantom haunts them.

I do not think that condition, vulgarly scandalous as it is, is new in the halls of Congress. The last president Aquino (because he should be the last of his dynasty) was recorded and confirmed to have withheld pork to his opposing legislators. He also did one step backward: He rewarded senator judges who voted for CJ Renato Corona’s impeachment with pork bounty, promptly pronounced unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

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But the persistence of pork precisely gives us the terse synopsis of why the Duterte mantra of “change is coming” was nothing but fake news to his 16 million voters. One of the most defiant “changes” is the Speaker who has the shameless braggadocio of dispensing public money as reward for kowtowing congressmen. He does not hide his threats. The Manobo pretender disowned by the Manobo themselves is actually the most naked emperor with no clothes in the Duterte fiefdom.

These threats corrupt the state legislature. It promotes the perpetuation of dynasties because the lifeblood of dynasties is the continuous embezzlement of public money for their own benefits.

Last week, when the House resumed its bogus session on the impeachment case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the topic was the Toyota Prado the chief magistrate had bought for her official use. A private citizen found a most apposite poetic justice and posted it on social media—parked outside the Batasan was a cavalcade of Toyota Prados belonging to the congressmen. The hypocrisy grows by the day because the leadership sets the example. The law applies to all but themselves.

The Alvarez brashness appears to be effective. Last year, the many who had thought Geraldine Roman was going to be the new libertarian of Congress (rightly or wrongly) were stunned. Voting for the final reading of the bill for the return of capital punishment, Roman, who claims to be anti-death penalty, hemmed and hawed saying it was what her constituents wanted. Her last line was not exactly a Pandora’s box:

“Times are different. We have heard the House leadership speak in a meeting saying that there will be consequences for those who will vote no, or those who will absent themselves on the voting, those who will abstain.”

Over the weekend, the Speaker announced that the Senate’s “obstructionism” to the Con-ass (a perfectly graphic name, isn’t it?) tells him it is about time to declare a revolutionary government.

But all these antics are no longer a laughing matter. Thanks to the Speaker’s machinations, we read the writings on the wall and they do not actually say federalism. It does not say devolution. It does not say self-determination or deimperializing the center. It is merely the red herring. The real intent of Charter change is term extensions, the perpetuation to power of sitting elective officials till kingdom come, and the unbridled foreign ownership of private enterprise, plus other foolishness.

When a House of Representatives that is 78-percent dominated by political dynasts contemplates on term extensions without qualms, there is no iota of doubt it has ceased to exist for the public interest. It is about time we stop referring to Congress as a circus of clowns because it is not. It is no joke.

This week, about 500 local officials in Mindanao are scheduled to take their oath as the new turncoats for PDP-Laban. When elected officials think they can get away with the charade, it is time for pigs to fly.

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We do not wait for a deus ex machina. It is time for vociferous public anger.

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TAGS: 17th Congress, Antonio J. Montalvan II, charter change, federalism, House of Representatives, Kris-Crossing Mindanao, Pantaleon Alvarez, pork barrel funds
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