In the 2022 national polls, send in the clowns

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

Judy Collins wrote the lyrics of the song “Send in the Clowns”. It goes: “Isn't it rich? Are we a pair? Me, here at last, on the ground, you in mid-air, Where are the clowns? Isn't it bliss, don't you approve? One who keeps tearing around. One who can't move. Where are the clowns? There ought to be clowns?” Well, in the next year's elections, we shall be having more clowns in the Senate, much more in the House, and even among our next year's crop of governors, mayors, councilors, and what-have-you. Makes you proud to be a member of what our Constitution calls “the sovereign Filipino people”.

The Philippine government and the Filipinos' brand of politics, in the last 50 years or so, have become captives of the showbiz and entertainment industry. Brains and conscience are now seen as lower in value than handsome and pretty faces and the prowess to sing “Baleleng” or dance the budots. During the golden years of Philippine politics, when competence, brilliance, academic credentials, and professional qualifications were the criteria with which to choose senators, our voters used to send to that august body the nation's famous legal luminaries, Law books authors, topnotch Law professors, outstanding writers, high-caliber statesmen, and icons of honor, integrity, and rectitude. Today, we have action stars, boxing champions, retired military or police generals and husbands of megastars and multi-awarded actresses.

Isn't it great, isn't it good? Where are the clowns? Don't you see the clowns?

Respectable Law deans and Bar topnotchers are defeated by clowns and jokers, who never say a word during Senate deliberations and committee hearings, or in their effort to make sure that their presence is not ignored or forgotten, just blurt out some incoherent statements that could make a freshman Law student feel embarrassed for being part of the Filipino body politic.

Many of our high-level politicians are sons and daughters of former presidents, or former senators themselves, who might have thought that political offices in this country are transmissible by intestate succession or through bequest, or donations “inter vivos” or “mortis causa”. Some are wives or husbands, or children of other traditional politicians. There was a time when a mother and a son were both in the same Senate. There was a brother and a sister too, or half-brothers with the same dad and different moms. The Senate has been transformed into one big happy family.

Isn't it cool? Isn't it cute? Where are the clowns, too many clowns.

I miss the years when senators would deliver monumental privilege speeches, like Jose P. Laurel, Manuel Briones, and Emmanuel Pelaez did, and later Ramon Mitra, Ninoy Aquino, and the other members of the Young Turks. I even miss Senate President Eulogio Rodriguez, whose English was problematic but whose mastery of parliamentary procedures was nothing less than impeccable. I miss the House with speakers like Daniel Romualdez, Jose P. Laurel, and Cornelio T. Villareal. I also miss the outstanding lady senators, Geronima Pecson, Maria Kalaw Katigbak, Pacita Madrigal Warns, Eva Estrada Kalaw, and the first Filipina Bar topnotcher, Tecla San Andres Ziga, and also Helena Benitez, Letecia Ramos Shahani, Santanina Rasul and, of course, the one and only Miriam Defensor Santiago.

Today, I hate to mention the names of our honorable members of that august body. Claro M. Recto and Jose W. Diokno might be turning over in their graves. There are still Rectos but they are not Claro. And the voters refuse to vote for another Diokno. He does not dance the budots. Lord, have mercy on the Philippines. I am about to cry.

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