Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 22 December 2018


Whatever happened to the “peace on earth, goodwill to men” atmosphere that used to reign during the Christmas holidays? The bickering and infighting are at full blast, and we have only three days left until Jesus’ birthday. As if the season we’ve been preparing for is of no moment. I am particularly fascinated by two examples:

1. There’s the battle between the executive and legislature, at least members thereof, accusing each other of evil misdeeds and traitorous actions. The pot calling the kettle black, with both sides telling each other to get off their high horses. My only consolation about this contretemps is that it shows that both sides are equally begrimed.

But, Reader, it turns out that if, as far back as 10 years ago, the legislators had put their money were their mouths were, today’s battles would not have been waged. What happened 10 years ago? Senators Miriam Santiago and Mar Roxas, acting separately, I think, sponsored legislation mandating total transparency.

You can google a copy of Roxas’ version (I couldn’t find Miriam’s) — Senate Bill No. 2623, or the Congressional Insertions Transparency Act of 2008. It is only three and a half pages long, triple-spaced, but it packs a punch.

It defined “Congressional Insertions” as referring to all amendments to the national expenditure program or the general appropriations bill which may be proposed or introduced by a member or committee of either the House or the Senate during the deliberations on the same, including deliberations before the bicameral conference committee.

It also requires detailed disclosure of those insertions  to any person who asks for them. Then, after the General Appropriations Act is approved, a report summarizing ALL congressional insertions included in such Act shall be posted in the House and Senate websites and published in two newspapers of national circulation. Not only that: All proposed congressional insertions of every legislator that were NOT APPROVED would also be disclosed. Easier to see inequities.

The bill prohibits self-serving appropriations or appropriations in conflicts of interests — defined as one that will benefit directly or indirectly the legislator’s personal or private interest or properties — and those are immediately deemed void with no cure. And the legislator may be liable for criminal charges, including plunder.

Fantastic, no? Of course, since this bill would have put a major crimp on the pork barrel and other activities of the legislators, it was not passed.

But I urge the legislators, in the spirit of the Christmas season, to pass this ONE thing for the Filipino people, who are after all, their masters.  You can do it in one day, even faster than it took the House of Representatives to pass the new Constitution. A gift to the Filipino people.

2. The other issue/example I bring to your consideration, Reader, is the refusal of the Department of National Defense to agree to a ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army for the holidays. This is the first time in 50 years that there is no such agreement. Is this cruel and heartless?

Consider the situation. The CPP/NPA don’t particularly attach any significance to Dec. 25. They are more concerned with Dec. 26. Why that day? It is the day, in 1968, when Joma Sison founded the CPP. It is also the day when Mao Zedong was born.

And because of the ceasefires, the CPP/NPA have celebrated these events with impunity, parading their military might and holding demonstrations (“Rebolusyon, hindi Eleksyon” placards) without fear of being stopped. I am told even local officials (up to the governor level) show up at these celebrations.

Now, shift attention to the onlookers — obviously promdi or IP or both. They see the arms, the demonstrations and the visitors coming and going without hindrance. What are they to think? That the CPP/NPA is a force mightier than the government, naturally. So okay to join them. The psychological impact is tremendous.

So, this time, the important milestones of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the CPP and the 125th birthday of Mao Zedong, the military is not cooperating. A victory, both in reality and psychologically.

The Season’s blessings be upon all of us.