How important is the Senate to the nation?
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Freeman) - January 12, 2018 - 12:00am

A big issue erupted in the Hallowed Halls of the Philippine Legislature when House Speaker Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez threatened to abolish the Philippine Senate when the Philippine Constitution would be amended. This sparked into a serious word war between the House Speaker and many Senators. Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon called upon Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III to defend the independence and integrity of the Senate.

In my book this word war or squabbling between legislators is totally unnecessary. But what can we expect from Sen. Drilon who, when he was Senate President, lorded it over the Congress. Yet he is only defending his position as a senator without going into the pros and cons of having a Senate or not. Perhaps these people misunderstood the House Speaker who should have used better language in talking about their proposal for a unicameral legislature.

For a long time now, my beef against the Senate is simply that they are voted at large and therefore they don’t have their own respective districts to consider as their constituents. Hence, most Senators have swollen heads. In my book, if we continue to have Senators they must be voted according to the Federal State, just like what they do in the United States.

While we are on this national debate whether to abolish the Senate or not, perhaps it is high time for the Filipino people to know how much the national government spends for our senators and in return what the Filipino people are getting from these senators? If we were spending billions for 24 senators and getting peanuts back in laws approved by the Senate, then I too would want the Senate to be abolished.

Meanwhile, during the impeachment trial for the late Supreme Court chief justice Renato Corona, many senators who voted to convict him got P100 million from the Department of Budget and Management which is called the Disbursement Acceleration Program. Until now, only two senators have been indicted for this crime. But in defending the Senate, the senators make themselves all so important as if the nation cannot live without a Senate. Of course, there are many nations out there who have a unicameral system of governance.

But in my book we can still have a bicameral system but with a twist –the New Philippine Senate should come from the Federal State governors, therefore they would be elected as governor, not as senators. But their role as senators would not be the same as the senators today. Just like the House of Lords in England, this new breed of senators would only do a check and balance on the laws that Congress would pass. In short, we should do away with that useless circus called a senate investigation.

But all this cannot happen until we first amend the 1987 Constitution which, as everyone knows by now, has not given the Filipino nation the justice we have always longed for. But then the sycophants of the yellow regime, like Christian and Solita Monsod, and former chief justice Hilario Davide Jr. have banded together to badmouth a Federal form of government rather than educate the Filipino people on the pros and cons of our present unitary form of governance vis-à-vis a Federal form of government and, yes, a parliamentary form of government.

Before we go into a debate on these very important issues we must first find out whether we should go into a Constitutional Convention (con-con) or a Constituent Assembly (con-ass). Then after the EDSA Revolt of 1986, then Pres. Cory Aquino created a new way of drafting a Constitution called the Constitutional Commission (con-com), which she created through Proclamation No. 9. The con-com drafted the 1987 Constitution.

Personally, I still prefer a con-con as the best way to draft a new constitution. However, I submit that it is costly and takes a lot of time. Frankly speaking, I never wanted a con-ass for the simple reason that we voted our legislators to enact laws and not draft a Constitution. Because of cost considerations and lack of material time, I dare say that Pres. Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte created a con-com who would draft the new Federal constitution for the Philippines.

*  *  *

For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@mozcom.com or vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

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