“What would the Ten Commandments have looked like if Moses had run them through …Congress,” the late President Ronald Reagan once wondered.. Wonder no more. Listen instead to Rep. Mark Cojuangco.
”We’re only good at changing the names of streets and schools. These are what the House proudly claims as it’s accomplishments,“ the Pangasinan representative wailed . Congress adjourned Wednesday. “Crucial bills are left rotting…Shouldn’t we…finally vote and decide on them?”
Congressman Cojuangco underestimates his colleagues’s capacity – or appetites. They have more skills than just cobbling new signboards for streets and schools.
Congressmen are no slouch at burning tax money. They appropriated, for themselves P13-million pork barrel slabs each last year.. They’ll have more this election year. Watch when the final General Approriations Act surfaces..
At Malacanang’s behest, congressmen embedded P19.6 billion in “one-liners” into the Department of Public Works & Highways’ budget last year.. Another P11.6 billion was stashed into the Transport & Communication department budget. Buckle up for repeated plunder.
Led by the President and First Gentleman, 28 cash-flush congressmen sallied into New York’s Le Cirque Restaurant and Vann’s Steakhouse. None has been held to account, despite Speaker Prospero Nograles’ August 20 pledge : Each would foot the bill personally.
Congress has demonstrated it’s mettle as “Laundromat”. Remember World Bank’s probe into a major cartel that colluded in rigging bids for a $150-million national roads project?
After a four year probe, the Bank blacklisted seven firms. Three were Filipino companies: EC De Luna Construction Corp., CM Pancho Construction, and Cavite Ideal Construction.
In less than a week’s time, the House committee on public works and highways “cleared” the firms. The House probers were either whiz kids or crooks. Take your pick.
“Laundromat” patterns emerged in scams like Northrail, “Joc-Joc’s fertilizer , Macapagal Boulevard, etc. “It could be probably be shown by facts and figures, that there is no distinctly native …criminal class except Congress,” Mark Twain wrote in 1897.
The Lower House proved adept at derailing repeated impeachment bids, lodged against the President or allies, like Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
Farther back, pro-Joseph Estrada congressmen sprang Luzviminda Tancangco, over at the Commission on Elections. On a budget of P1.2 billion, she awarded a P6.5 billion contract for election IDs. This Voters’ Registration project disenfranchised thousands. Rep. Ronaldo Zamora and pro-Erap solons absented themselves on the crucial vote.
Presidential candidate Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro never refers to his quarter-backing Eduardo Cojuangco’s “Brat Pack” in impeaching Chief justice Hilario Davide.
The Davide court ruled that coconut levies were public funds, not crony loot. The court clipped Marcos booty in Swiss banks. Dogged resistance by citizens and church groups stopped the “Pack”. But not before “Gibo” & Co. dragged the country to the brink of a constitutional crisis.
Ombudsman Aniano Desierto was, the late Senator Lorenzo Tanada stressed, consumed only by Desierto’s interests. But “even emperors have straw sandalled relatives”, noted Viewpoint (Inquirer 10/20/05). “In history’s lottery, Merceditas Gutierrez was the First Gentleman’s classmate..”
A straw-sandalled Ombudsman squelched, or froze, key cases, depending on Palace interests, Philippine Human Development Report 2009 notes. These ranged from the Mega Pacific election computer case to World Bank’s crack down on highway bid collusion. In November, pro-Arroyo congressmen spiked, an impeachment charge, against Gutierrez.
Gutierrez term ends in 2012. She’ll be handed a slew of accusations when constitutional immunity for President Arroyo (and de-facto immunity for the First Gentleman) ends noon of June 30, 2010. Or will she still be Ombudsman?
“There’s talk the Palace wants to replace Ombudsman Gutierrez”, Newsbreak’s Aries Rufo reports. That way, “the new appointee would have a fresh term of seven years.”
Is that how long the regime foresees the need “to cover its flanks”? What’s clear for now is “the Constitution protects aliens, drunks and congressmen,” as Will Rogers once joked.
The wreckage the 14th Congress left is patent. The Freedom of Information bill, for example, was “one step away from passage but the House of Representatives didn’t deliver,” ABS-CBN Carmela Fonbuena reports.
FOI author Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III (Quezon) was pessimistic the House would ratify the report, when Congress convenes, as National Board of Canvassers, after the May elections.
Lower House’s ratification would have taken no more than 30 seconds. If there was no objection, the floor leader could have declared it approved “But the House leadership failed Tanada,” Fonbuena added. “The session was immediately adjourned because of lack of quorum.”
“(Democracy) will endure until the day Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public’s money,” Alexis de Tocqueville wrote. Has that day come?