Insanity? Macchiavellian? Or both?

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

I have to appreciate the utility of modern technology. Very early morning yesterday, I happened to hear/view the hearing of the Senate committee headed by Senator Maria Imelda Josefa Remedios "Imee" Romualdez Marcos which without the internet, I could have missed irretrievably. The hearing focused on the solicitation of the signatures of people in Davao on a document which was later exposed as part of this grand scheme called People’s Initiative. As the hearing progressed, it dawned on me that there were perceptively deceptive acts that were perpetrated.

Under oath, a woman declared with unbridled pride that she was a trusted coordinator of a party-list because the congresswoman was a close friend. Her simple instruction was to get persons to affix their signatures on a document upon a promise of a future aid and/or cash benefit. Because she was a known leader of the lawmaker, her promise carried weight. Never were persons who signed the paper told anything about this constitutional novelty called People’s Initiative. Well, nobody really asked what it was for. It was rather clear to me that people were deceived and at that time they were willing to be deceived.

One punong barangay proudly claimed that his village was (is) the largest barangay in the entire Mindanao with a voting population of over 70,000. Proceeding from that revelation, he informed Senator Marcos’ committee that a defeated barangay captain was given the task of getting the voters in his barangay to affix their signature a document with a commitment that those who signed it were to be compensated ?6,000 monthly as Tapat workers. The village chief asserted that Tapat money would come from the government funds of DOLE and should be handled by elected officials like him. Certain of his position, he collected as many papers and kept these as evidence of fraud.

The Senator Marcos committee discovered the connivance of Congress and the purported People’s Initiative petitioner. Taxes were apparently funneled from government treasury and handled by members of the Lower House for distribution to the people. The testimony of a coordinator of a party-list was spontaneous and unambiguous. The link between Congress and PIRMA in so far as the former funding the activities of the latter was, in the minds of the audience, very well established. The coordinator sounded more credible than the denial of many a congressman.

I have read the opinions of the learned men in our midst. According to them, the process followed in this People’s Initiative is wrong, constitutionally speaking. Some of them have ascribed insanity to it. How can it be a People’s Initiative when it is the work the members of the House of Representatives? The fact that people are promised certain benefits in exchange of their signatures shows that it is not their initiative to file any document. In my case, after listening to the committee hearing, I believe that the minds of our congressional leaders are Machiavellian!

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