One small, poor nation with 22 deputy speakers
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - November 8, 2019 - 12:00am

Should we rejoice or lament that, at least, the Philippines has another feather in its cap, a rare distinction. It is one of a kind, a “sui generis” in the language of lawyers. Too small and too poor a country, with more than 70 million wallowing in extreme poverty, but with grandiose projections (surpassing the US Congress and the Parliament of Great Britain), and giving 22 solons the glorified title of Deputy Speaker, with P750 million each allegedly as pork barrel. For one year alone. My God.

The Guinness Book of Records may declare the Philippines as the only small and poor country with the biggest number of Deputy Speakers in the whole world, and in all history. This never happened since the ancient and medieval times, never has a very small army ever been led by too many generals. The US House of Representatives, with 50 states represented by 435 congressmen and with the strongest economy in the whole world has only one Deputy Speaker. In France’s Parliament, as well as in Germany's Federal Council and Switzerland's National Council, and even in Russia's Federal Assembly, there's only one. In Japan's Diet, there is only one Deputy Speaker in the Shugiin or the Lower House.

Also in the Malaysian Parliament's Dewan Rakyat and in Singapore's Unicameral Parliament. The same is true in Israel's Knesset, and in UK's House of Commons. The Philippines has a whopping 22 Deputy Speakers. What are the specific duties and responsibilities of these exalted gentlemen? Is this just a formula to make everybody happy because multiple parties have to be appeased in the choice of the Speaker? What is the value added to the selection of too many speakers? Above all, what can the people expect in terms of better and more concrete services from the legislators? Will this enhance the efficiency of legislation? Will this promote effectiveness and better quality of legislative measures?

I don't think so. This is pure politics, a pure and simple horse trading, with too many horses, given the exalted title of glorified traditional politicians. The following were elected on July 22, 2019; Paulo Duterte, Ferdinand Hernandez, Evelina Escudero, Loren Legarda, Conrado Estrella III, Prospero Pechay, Roberto Ponio, Eddie Villanueva, Aurelio Gonzales Jr., Johnny Pimentel, L Ray Villafuerte, Romeo Abbu, Neptali Gonzales, Dan Fernandez, Baby Arenas, Rodante Marcoleta, Henry Oaminal, Pablo John Garcia, DV Sabellano, Vilma Santos, Mujib Hataman, and Michael Romero, the richest partylist congressman representing the poor and marginalized sector.

My idea of a speaker is in the caliber Don Sergio Osmeña, Mariano Jesus Cuenco, Amang Rodriguez, Jose P. Laurel and Cornelio Villareal. But Vilma Santos and Baby Arenas? Oh, my God. Forgive my irreverence. Of course, I am proud of Pablo John Garcia. He was a Bar topnotcher, brainy like Noy Pabling, also a Deputy Speaker, although PJ is not as dynamic as Governor Gwen, a former Deputy Speaker too. But the others? My God. Why didn't we elect Gretchen Barretto? Or Atong Ang? What has happened to our country? Where are the Tañadas, the Salongas, the Tolentinos, the Don Vicente Ramas, the Don Filemons and Vicente Sottos? I am about to cry.

Too many speakers in a very small, suffering country, 70% of whom are poor and very poor. Have mercy on us, oh Lord. We should all migrate to Zimbabwe.

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