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Friday, May 17, 2013

Need Bills, New Senators?

We've just finished another election. I'll be the first to say that, in my circle, we are vastly disappointed with who we now call our new representatives. I'll even go so far as saying that, on a personal level, I did not vote for a single person currently ranked in the 'top 15' for the Senate race.

The advice that I have been getting lately has been to move on, that we should respect the people's will, that we should hold hands and sing Kumbaya, it's time to heal, and we should now fall in line, etc.

Sorry, that's not how I see it.

One of the 'funny' things about how we run our democracy is that it seems to be a one day affair - we vote, we feel empowered for a single day, we claim that our voice matters, but after the results are out, we are supposed to treat these elected officials as demigods, our superiors, and they're supposed to "know better."


We're supposed to watch them every step of the way, to see if they can deliver what they promised during the period when they were begging for us to choose their names on the ballot. I noticed that many of them had the same motherhood utterances - fight poverty, create jobs, feed every child - as can be expected of sweet talkers.

So, senators, I'be decided to give my input, as to the kind of bills I would like to see deliberated upon, and since I posted this on Facebook, some people have given their inputs as well, which I will now share here.

(Courtesy of

(1) A bill that ensures that once elected, a public official is barred from holding another job, in any capacity.

We voted you to do a job - to legislate, to run our cities - but what do we see? Senators who produce and star in movies for the annual filmfest, who see nothing amiss by appearing in a noontime show, pushing products or co-hosting morning talk shows.

What happened to that much touted "backlog" they keep referring to, whenever they are asked why a certain bill is still not being tackled? You are supposed to sit there, day in and out, and argue until the cows come home and decide if a bill should be approved and in what form. Then on to the next bill. And the next. We're not paying you to see your name sa takilya or in the small screen.

Execute, legislate - DO YOUR JOB. If you have time to advertise for nutritional supplements, does that mean the job we entrusted you with is too easy?

(2) A bill that requires journalists, TV personalities, public figures in fields other than politics that have lopsided public exposure to resign from their jobs one year before they file their candidacies.

We've seen it all too often - a matinee idol decides to "cross over" to being a legislator because his star isn't shining that bright anymore, or a newscaster thinks to parlay the daily exposure she gets on a nightly basis into a career as a local executive. It's terribly unfair, especially in a country like ours, where telenovelas and lunch time variety shows reign supreme, a testament to our obsession with flash, not substance. (More on this in a later bill.)

(3) A bill that raises the minimum requirements for a candidate to be considered for public office.

And we need to raise this bar. Drastically. For those who say that it is anti-poor, our government provides for free schooling until high school, and many colleges offer full scholarships for deserving but financially struggling students. These are positions that will affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Millions of people. This is not the time to scrimp on getting the cream of the crop, to be bashful and say "pwede na yan."

Are we that desperate? As long as they have a "heart to serve" OK na? The way I see it, you do not need a public position to translate your "heart to serve" - but to be imbued with much power and money under one's control, you need to prove yourself credible and trustworthy of such a responsibility.

We need to stop glorifying the least common denominator. If we allow those with the barest minimum of qualifications to lead this country, it doesn't take a genius to know we won't be getting anywhere.

(4) A bill that reverses the oppressive requirements in the workplace.

This is a bill that is the complement of the third one in this list; that is, if our lawmakers refuse to raise the standards for public office, then it's only fair that everyone take their lead.

Why should a small retail shop require its' employees to be college graduates, when the job only requires them to take inventory of the store's products, and we can have senators who don't even know how to file a bill or understand why a corporation has a separate identity all its own, yet be responsible for sweeping changes in our social structures that will affect generations to come?

We might as well take the lead from these "leaders" - OK na ang OJT. And the bill won't even require you to have the surname of an unconstitutional political dynasty.

(5) A bill that bans all telenovelas and all variety shows for a period of one year, after which time, the national IQ will be measured.

You may think this to be a radical proposal, decry it as undemocratic - but what could be more damaging to a democracy than giving the vote to someone who judges a candidate by what character s/he has played in a movie? Even politicians who have never been on the silver screen adopt names from that genre - think of Alfredo "Dirty Harry" Lim, who was just beaten by Joseph "Asiong Salonga" Estrada.

During this time, shows on science, math, literature and the arts will replace what we see on a daily basis.

Of course, when I threw this suggestion out, someone pleaded with me to retain Be Careful With My Heart. Between that and a book series called Twilight, I'm not sure which one would be the lesser evil. So maybe that soap opera has a chance of surviving this bill, after all.

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