Wanted: Competent Legislators

It's unfortunate that candidates for Congressmen are not subjected to the same kind of scrutiny when they should also be for the benefit of their constituents to better assess their qualifications and capabilities.

The campaign for twelve Senatorial seats began in earnest last February 12 but even before that, those who filed their certificates of candidacy launched their campaigns after their filing.

The broadcast networks scheduled Senatorial fora for the public benefit so that the platforms of the different candidates would be known, including their stand on key issues such as the return of the death penalty, lowering the age of criminal responsibility, same-sex marriage, the legalization of medical marijuana and a broad range of economic issues, foremost of which is inflation.

To the discerning voter, the options leave much to be desired. The opposition Senatorial slate claims to be focused on issues but adopt the populist view of attacking the administration's tax reform program as the culprit for inflation reaching a record level last year.

TRAIN is their bogeyman but when asked where they will source the additional revenues required to fund the social amelioration bills passed by Congress, they claim the government has enough funds to cover these social benefits even if the government is operating on a budget deficit.

The same is true with political and economic reform. They are opposed to Federalism per se as they claim it is a costly and inefficient exercise in futility. They don't bother to take into account the cost of maintaining the bilateral legislature where bills still need to go through the bicameral conference committee before the final version is approved.

The recent controversy over budgetary insertions boggled the public mind again as the Congressmen and Senators fought over the amount of pork allocations in the 2019 national budget. The total amount runs to P99B for both Congressmen and Senators. This amount can be better utilized for free tertiary education, the universal healthcare act and the expanded maternity leave benefit.

The administration Senatorial slate also has candidates who are both unqualified and inexperienced. Bong Go, Bato De La Rosa, Freddie Aguilar and Jiggy Manicad have never held elective political office and are greenhorns when it comes to legislation. Should they win, they will more than likely serve as the President's proxies for his legislative agenda. Their votes will come particularly handy if Congress convenes as a constituent assembly to amend the Constitution.

There are some independent neophyte candidates who have proven to be revelations during their participation in the debates which has been held.

Their answers to questions asked of them are focused on the policy framework which provides a permanent rather than a palliative populist solution to issues which directly impact the public. Ding Generoso and Larry Gadon stood out in the last two town hall debates held by ABS-CBN.

It's unfortunate that candidates for Congressmen are not subjected to the same kind of scrutiny when they should also be for the benefit of their constituents to better assess their qualifications and capabilities.

The existing political structure is exclusive because only the moneyed candidates are able to stand for political office at both the national and local levels. It is a shame that someone like Ding Generoso doesn't stand a chance of sharing his abilities and talents with his countrymen as a committed and diligent public servant.

This is one of the compelling reasons why a federal parliamentary form of government is more beneficial to the public. The presence of regional parliaments provides individuals such as Generoso the opportunity to serve. It is also conducive to the development of new leaders who need to gain the experience of working in government, particularly legislation, which is the building block of political maturity and economic development.

Hopefully the President will still push through with his promised transition to Federalism after the May election.

The last half of a presidential term is normally focused on legacy-building. The transition to Federalism is the best legacy the Duterte Presidency can leave to the Filipino after he steps down in 2022.

About the Author
RG is a seasoned international trade and sales and marketing professional who also dabbles in writing. He was a contributor to Business World in the mid-90s and is also a tech geek.
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