At this juncture of our country’s political history we wonder why and how our Congress has gone to the dogs! We are appalled by the magnitude of the scandal this institution is now going through.
And as a corollary issue, we are curious: Why has this ought-to-be honorable institution been invaded by people with mediocre minds—people mostly from the movie industry or entertainment world? How come? This major and very important institution of government should have been run by the brainiest men and women of our citizenry—the cream of the crop, so called. Behold how it has turned into a clubhouse of movie idiots and clowns!
Let us try to look back at history.
In decades past we were acquainted with such minds as Claro M Recto, Lorenzo Tañada, Jose W Diokno, Jovito Salonga—and certainly a few others whose demonstrations of brilliance in the tangle of wits and ideas in the halls of Congress could be matched only by their subscription to the ideals for which the Philippine Republic was constituted. They did not only render shining pride and honor to the law-making body in their own time, they proved to be avid defenders of civil rights and advocates of social justice.
The illustrious Claro M Recto, the father of Philippine Constitution, was a no-nonsense intellectual who, before he died under suspicious circumstances that point to the CIA agents as assassins, vowed to launch an all-out campaign against US Imperialism. Senator Lorenzo Tañada was a consistent fighter for civil liberties even as a young student leader until he founded the MAN (Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism) espousing causes that uphold the integrity and sovereignty of our country. Of course, Senator Jose W Diokno, was a valiant advocate of freedom and justice for the Filipino people, fighting until his dying hour the tyranny of the Marcos’ martial law regime under the patronage of US Imperialism. Senator Jovito Salonga, in collaboration with the Magnificent Twelve in the Senate during President Corazon Aquino’s incumbency, caused the dismantling of the US Military Bases on our soil.
To be sure, these four pillars in the architecture of our Legislature are men of sterling character and probity. The Filipino people need to remember them and be reminded of their manifest dedication and exemplary deeds as members of the lawmaking body of our republic. They stand as beacons and as trail-blazers of a tradition of righteousness and integrity in public service. They were visionary statesmen more than being politicians.
But we only look back to their remarkable history with a sense of nostalgia as we grapple with the pests who have dared infest our current Congress. We lament the big disparity with which the integrity of our legislature has shrunk to ignominious dimensions. We are taken by surprise with the phenomenon of mediocrity in the composition of our present Congress. If we were to chart the historical development of intellectual quality and probity of its membership from the time of its beginnings, we can only grumble in disbelief and dismay by the steep drop of the index line.
One wonders why it has come to this point of shameful proportions! It seems the quality of the intellect of our present legislators is inversely proportional to the craftiness by which its members can perpetrate crimes against the public trust which they have sworn to uphold as elected representatives of the people. Surely, there must be a historical root to this? Surely, this is not just a matter of character flaw—a propensity to steal and cheat?
If we begin to trace the pathways paved on the way to corruption, we cannot but underscore the “tradition of the pork barrel” infused into the Philippine political framework as a blind imitation of the US political system. The pernicious practice of replicating in toto and in verbatim the American system now explodes to our faces in painful ironic ways!
But the pork barrel does not overtly reveal to us how such mediocre lawmakers as Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada and many other movie artists have invaded the legislative chamber. Did they just crawl stealthily like snakes into the Roll of Legislators through some gaps and holes? Well, if we study how some unscrupulous politicians—prominent as they are— are paving pathways to build up certain personalities who have attained popularity in the movies, in sports, (or even as beauty queens), it is not hard to understand why the legislative body has turned into a Movie Producers Club. Like begets like.
Indeed, it is these unscrupulous politicians and their political parties who act as padrinos and endorsers of movie idols and boxing champs to the political game who open the halls of Congress to mediocrity. For what means and ends? For the convenient reason and purpose of exploiting their popularity to lure votes in the electoral game.
And so it would not be not surprising if in the coming electoral season more movie artists and stunt men are enlisted by political parties for their line-up of candidates for the Congress. Or even for the Presidency! And that would be the most stupendous pitfall ever to befall our political system.
And what do these movie artists and stunt men and beauty queens bring to the political organs of the State whenever they succeed in their gate crash? Do they have a vision for the future of Philippine society? Oh, they carry their virulent outlook of mediocrity, flaunting and infecting the political organism with their pompous lifestyle and decadent culture. This has happened to us now! To the tragic disgrace of our society.