EDITORIAL - Above the law

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Above the law

Lawmakers must be reminded that they are on the payroll of taxpayers so their employer – or their boss, as a former president put it – is the Filipino public. Lawmakers must also bear in mind that their job designation does not put them above the law, but commits them to uphold it.

There must be no room in Congress for the kind of arrogance being imputed on ACTS-OFW party-list Rep. John Bertiz. A viral video showed the congressman shoving what appears to be his identification card at the face of a security screener at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2. The video showed Bertiz then grabbing the screener’s ID card and taking a photo of it.

Initial reports said Bertiz resented being told to take off his shoes for the x-ray machine – a standard requirement for all departing passengers. His camp explained that he was irked upon seeing a group of Asian-looking foreigners being escorted past the security area without going through the same checks.

If Bertiz wants foreigners to comply with Philippine laws and regulations, he must be the first to show compliance. He should take off his shoes – plus his belt, jacket and whatever other items ordinary folks are told to put on the tray for the x-ray machine.

In other countries, he would have landed in jail for creating a scene. Considering the threats to global security particularly aviation, such requirements are for the safety of all departing passengers, himself included. After complying with the rules, he can then castigate airport personnel who might have exempted foreigners from security screening, as his camp claims.

Bertiz was still in a joking mood yesterday, blaming his “monthly period” for the outburst. For sure, women are not amused.

This is the second time in just a week that Bertiz has drawn flak. At the oath-taking of new engineers at the Professional Regulation Commission last week, he drew boos from the audience when he joked that those who did not know Special Presidential Assistant Christopher “Bong” Go would not get their PRC license. The negative reaction to the “joke” could rub off on Go.

House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, who counts 44 members in his bloc, said yesterday they would initiate an ethics probe of Bertiz. With the probe, the House should convince the public that its members understand that no one is above the law – least of all those who craft legislation.

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