Published in Manila Standard Today on 14 April 2012
By Elizabeth Angsioco
KNOW thy lawmakers.
Considering the initial Pulse Asia survey results on so-called senatoriables, the present Congress composition, and ongoing political movements and realignments, we might be seeing the following as lawmakers:
At the Senate, husband and wife Bong and Lani Mercado-Revilla; sons of former President Joseph Estrada, Jinggoy and JV Ejercito; father and son Juan and Jack Ponce Enrile; siblings Allan Peter and Pia Cayetano; presidential sister and actress Kris Aquino; former Representative and wife of Senator Manny Villar, Cynthia; son of Senator Ed Angara, Sonny; Senator Bongbong Marcos; Rep. Erin Tanada; Senator Lito Lapid; Migz Zubiri; Senator Chiz Escudero; Senator Loren Legarda; actor Richard Gomez; and broadcaster Mike Enriquez.
At the House of Representatives, it is quite possible that we will still see the following incumbents, actress and Richard’s wife Lucy Torres-Gomez; mother and daughter Imelda and Aliah Dimaporo; husband and wife Florencio Noel and Jaye Lacson-Noel; brothers Romeo and Seth Jalosjos; sons of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Diosdado and Juan Miguel; cousins Eric and Ryan Luis Singson; relatives Kimi and Enrique Cojuangco; Imelda Marcos, Salvador Escudero III, and Jose Zubiri, who happen to be the mother, father, and brother of Bongbong, Chiz, and Migs respectively; Mark Villar, son of Manny and Cynthia Villar; and, Abigail Binay, daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Willie Revillame figures in both Senate and House of Representatives. Per the Pulse Asia survey, he ranked no. 19 and only .1 percent separates him from no. 18, former Senator Richard Gordon. It was also reported that Revillame is the top nominee of his foundation that applied for registration with the Commission on Elections for the 2013 Party List elections. Thus, we might end up calling the controversial television host Honorable Senator or Rep. Revillame.
Then and now, Congress has always been full of personalities. They may come from show business, media, sports, or known political families. Our political culture has for the longest time been characterized as one that is based on patronage. The electorate largely looks at government positions as “reserved” for the rich and the famous. Thus, elections are usually won by money and personality.
Off-hand, let me say that I have worked closely with some of the people I mentioned and a number of them perform as they should. I am not prepared to say that being an actor, or belonging to a rich, influential family should automatically mean that they should not be elected.
I also do not question candidates’ intent to serve. But by now we should already know that intent is not enough. They should also have the knowledge and capability to fulfill their mandate. It should be a combination of heart, brain, and experience.
I am quite alarmed that for the 2013 elections, we face a scenario wherein both Houses of Congress may be placed in the hands of even fewer political families and personalities.
Outside of the actors who are mostly considered as misfits, the possibility that there will be more husbands and wives, siblings, parents and offspring in both Houses, and across Senate and the House of Representatives, is simply too much. These do not even include other family members occupying Executive positions including Malacanang itself.
Lawmakers are elected. Voters choose who to put in these positions. The decision to NOT put Congress under the control of just a few families and stars is in our hands.
It is unthinkable that of the more than 92 million Filipinos, we only rely on a handful of clans and personalities to perform the very important responsibility of lawmaking. Surely, there are more out there who can do the job at par, if not better.
Instead of being awed by family names or blinded by the sparkle of stars, we must look into the track records of candidates. Subject them to a rigorous criteria. Look into their backgrounds. Have they been implicated in any significant political scandal? What have they accomplished? How do they stand on issues important to us? What is their legislative agenda? These are but some of the questions voters should answer before going for or against any candidate.
Some would say that 2013 is still far away but politicians are already positioning themselves. Voters need to take the coming elections seriously. Famous or not, choose wisely those who will make our laws. Fair warning.
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