Questionable 2019 Senatoriable Statements and Why It Should Be Taken Seriously
by Maria Romero, February 28, 2019 2:20pm
Art by Dani Elevazo
All public servants equally hold significant roles in ensuring the nation’s and its people’s welfare. Senators are among the most important members of our Legislative branch—they make laws, give solutions to issues and concerns of public interest, and represent the people through their advocacies.
The Philippine Senate is composed of 24 Senators elected at large by qualified voters as provided by the constitution. Senators serve six-year terms with a maximum of two consecutive terms with wages under salary grade 31, the predetermined compensation level for senators which is equivalent to at least 117,086php monthly pay as set by the Department of Budget. Every three years, we elect half of the new batch of Senators to ensure the Senate remains as a continuous body.
We’re only months away from our national elections on May 13, and aspiring candidates are already parading their credentials and campaign promises even before the official campaign period started on February 12. As of January 31, 62 candidates are vying for a seat in the Senate, and 134 party lists are asking for people’s trust according to COMELEC.
To kick-start your early decision-making on who to vote for senators, here are some questionable statements from Senatoriables climbing up the winning circle:
Divorce Law is not for the bitter; it’s for those who want to be better. Yes, committing into married life should not be a decision made in a snap. Agnes Escudero reiterated the need to have seminars on parenting and marriage counseling but what’s the point of attending those seminars when domestic abuse and irreconcilable differences are no longer reparable with simple discussions? A strong republic is based on a strong family unit, yes but how would it stay strong when a married couple can no longer amend what’s broken?
Larry Gadon is known as the person behind former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s impeachment complaint in 2017. As a self-proclaimed “true-blooded Marcos Loyalist,” he firmly believes the Marcos family did not steal money from the national budget. This is despite the Presidential Commission on Good Government’s 2017 annual report showing an approximately US$5 billion to US$10 billion Marcos’s ill-gotten wealth where only about 170php billion has been recovered in the past 30 years.
Former broadcast journalist Jiggy Manicad is now taking the roads towards his political journey, but it seems like he’s already under fire for his remarks on how President Rodrigo Duterte’s tyrant style is not threatening one of the most basic rights of the Filipino journalists. But the government’s simple gesture of shutting down a publication for being critical to the administration is an insult to press freedom.
We must not forget former Senator Jinggoy Estrada was detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in 2014 for purportedly getting 183php million kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel. He was temporarily released in 2017 after the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court allowed him to post a one-million-peso bail for his graft and plunder cases.
Like Estrada, Bong Revilla was also acquitted for graft and plunder cases. Last December, he was released through 480,000php bail. Only two of his co-accused Janet Lim-Napoles and Richard Cambre, Revilla’s former chief-of-staff, were found guilty. He still has 16 counts of graft. Revilla’s statement on getting back to his political foes should he won as a senator is troubling. If you’re to vote for Revilla, it must be because he’s qualified, not because he’s “gwapo” and “mabait.”
Former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile is facing a plunder case for allegedly receiving 172.9php million kickback from projects funded by his pork barrel. He’s also facing 15 counts of graft over the scam. His cases are stuck for pre-trial for over three years because the Supreme Court granted him bail due to old age. If we can’t convict criminals because of old age, then why allow him to continue to run for a position back in the government? Why is the government convicting the poor regardless of age when violators like Enrile are running free?
Since Senators hold important functions in our government, it’s only fair to scrutinize their questionable responses to important questions to see if they are capable enough to lead. Choosing the right people to elect should not be based on the virality of their novice answers, it should be based on their ability to drive the Philippines toward progress.
In this digital time of fake news and black propaganda, critical thinking is our gift to this crumbling nation.