The Senate Has Its Purpose, No Need To Abolish It

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have
not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” –Matthew 5:17

CHICAGO (FAXX) – The widespread corruption rocking the Philippine Senate is whipping up calls for its abolition in the same way that there is brewing effort to scrap the un-elected Canada Senate following the expenses scandal involving a senator and a former senator.

But in the case of Thailand, its Senate is under fire for letting all of its 200 senators get elected, although 74 of them are appointed, because the bill that it is considering will also allow to run for office “parents, spouses, Member of Parliaments’ (MPs’) children and political-office holders to become candidates, as well as former MPs, political party members and politicians,” who are all banned for running for office under the current law.

 

If you ask me, I will oppose the Senate of Thailand from passing the “pro-dynasty” law that is now plaguing the Philippine Senate. I believe political dynasties in the Philippine Senate and in the House are among the root causes of corruptions.

You see, the Philippines has a Constitutional mandate to its Senators and Members of the House of Representatives to pass an enabling law that bans “spouse, or person related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, whether legitimate or illegitimate, full or half-blood, to an incumbent elective official seeking re-election shall be allowed to hold or run for any local or national elective office in the same election.” But this bill has languished in the House during the last 15 years.

But abolishing the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives because a lot of their members were caught with their hands inside the cookie jar is going to be a stretch.

These twin chambers make up one of the pillars of triumvirate along with the executive and judiciary necessary to run a government as co-equal that checks and balances each other. When one of the pillars falls, it will result in paralysis.

JUST SHAVE THE ROTTEN BRANCHES

Why cut up the roots when all you need is to shave some of its rotten branches?

I’m sure if the Senate and the House were Sodom and Gomorrah, God would spare their abolition with brimstone and fire if there were “45, 40, 30, 20 or 10” good lawmakers not involved in corruptions.

Even the Bible says in Matthew 5:17:  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

There have been at least three occasions in Philippine history that there has been no Senate body in the Philippines. First, when the Philippines adopted a unicameral legislature – the 1899 National Assembly of Representatives (First Philippine Republic), the five years following the 1935 Tydings-McDuffie Act and the Batasan Pambansa from 1978 to 1984, which became Marcos’ rubber-stamp parliament – but it did not last for good.

What the Philippine Senate needs is to put more bite on its oversight committees that will follow periodic random on-site inspections of projects, which have major Congressional appropriations.

For instance, if a certain Senator was able to procure funding for the construction of a public school building, the oversight committee should demand proof of photos and videos of the building as its construction is in progress.

This is on top of the representatives of the Commission on Audit, who will also be doing a report on the same building construction.

If the Oversight committees will be following up very closely supplies and services Senators have earmarked to be constructed, then, contractors will be on their toes.

This was how the U.S. Senate was able to stop cold the pork barrel amounting to $223 million “bridge to nowhere”. The bridge was to connect Alaska’s Gravina Island — population 50 — to the mainland. It led to the indictment of Sen. Ted Stevens on seven counts of making false statements on Senate financial disclosure forms.

‘BRIDGE TO NOWHERE”

There have numerous other U.S. Senators and U.S. Congressmen, who have been sent to jail and fined but the amounts involved have not yet come anywhere close to the amount involved in the “bridge to nowhere.”

And it had not yet led to the abolition of the U.S. Senate, although there are some catcalls from time to time.

In the case of the Canadian Senate, where Filipino Canadians have its own appointed Senator in Tobias C. Enverga, Jr., the Royal Canadian Mounted Police filed fraud and breach-of-trust charges against Mac Harb, a Liberal appointee, who resigned from the Senate last August, and Patrick Brazeau, who was expelled from the Conservative caucus last year and then suspended from the Senate because of what were deemed to be inappropriate expense claims.

Despite calls for the abolition of the unelected Canadian Senate following this series of scandals, I’m sure Filipino Canadians will be hoping and praying that what happened to Senators Harb and Brazeau will not happen to their very own senator – Jun Enverga.  Enverga’s critics have faulted him for not publicly disclosing the amount of money he and his wife have reportedly raised from the community long before he was appointed senator.

Enverga has yet to make a public response to this accusation or send me a statement in response to this accusation. At 55, Enverga will be receiving an annual salary of $135,000 for the next 18 years when he turns 75.

The amount involved in the bridge to nowhere nearly matched the P10-billion (US$238-million) pork barrel scam pulled by Filipino Chinese businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles that snared at least three Philippine senators – Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla – for allegedly pocketing the taxpayers’ money. They all denied the charges.  Hopefully, this scandal will not led to the Philippine Senate abolition!

(lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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