Dear Bato and Bong G
Before anything else, you deserve to be congratulated, so, congratulations.
As predicted by your great patron in Malacañang, you have become among the front-runners in the senatorial elections. This certainly is no mean feat, considering you have never been voted as elective officials of this country.
However, I can’t address you “honorable” senators-elect. The word seems overly discordant with the positions you have been elected to, or the august hall you will be holding sessions in.
The massive preelection publicity stunts that you mounted created a huge unfair advantage over other candidates not awash with resources—government and otherwise—to push their electoral campaigns on a level playing field with the likes of you and the rest of the administration slate. This included your multimillion-peso media ads, huge and conspicuous tarpaulins and billboards dotting several highways in many parts of the country.
But I will no longer belabor this and other pressing issues before and during the May 13 elections.
Instead, I will ask you to work really hard to become deserving of the honorific title—you owe it to the millions of people who put their trust on you, albeit blindly, to be among our country’s senators.
Bato: Together with your beloved patron in Malacañang, you are among the foremost promoters of extrajudicial killings associated with the war on drugs. This bloody war continues to snuff out the lives of poor, young, vulnerable people drawn into the illicit drug trade. Upon your imminent election to the Senate, you requested for a “seminar” or a crash course on how to go about your new job. But even if you “seminar until you drop” from today until you hold office, it won’t automatically make you a legislator worth the taxes that those who voted for you have paid.
For starters, can you please do some serious reading (and understanding) of what has been done in other countries that have made a headway in licking the illegal drug problem? Please check this link, http://time.com/longform/portugal-drug-use-decriminalization/, to read about Portugal, where the serious drug problem it faced in the late 1990s has been diminished through its policies of treating drug addiction as a public health issue rather than as a criminal one. It is not perfect but the significant decrease in drug-related crimes over the years since Portugal adopted it in the early 2000s would already be helpful to you when writing future legislation addressing the drug menace. It remains to be seen though whether you will be convinced of such policies, considering your hardline stance on “Operation Tokhang” 1 and 2.
Bong G: You have been touted as the man with the most malasakit (empathy) for the poor and downtrodden, per your master’s tagline: “ang kanyang bisyo ay serbisyo (his only vice is doing service for others).” I know you are a great Man Friday to the President. But now that you are one of the front-runners in the senatorial race, you need to learn some important skills, and fast.
Among others, you need to learn how to craft legislation that will redound to making the poor not dependent on yours and others’ dole outs, and on providing them an enabling environment to access jobs that celebrate the dignity of labor. You owe it to the constituency that voted for you, not to your master in Malacañang. He should no longer be demanding your presence or “services” (both pleasant and unsavory ones) at every whim.
More importantly, as a senator, make sure you don’t only whimper in your Senate seat or participate with just an obsequious nod to all proceedings in it.
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