16 March 2009

A Useless Piece of Legislation

Photo courtesy of Pecto Camero, MAS-PRID / 15 June 2008
One of the most useless and ill-thought of legislation is being proposed right now in the Philippines Congress. House Bill 5962, filed by Lanao del Norte Rep. Vicente Belmonte Jr., seeks to create more legislative districts to accommodate the rise in the national population to 88.5 million.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile was also reported to have expressed his full support to the proposal by filing his own version, Senate Bill 3123. The bill seeks to raise the maximum number of congressional districts from 250 to 350, also in consideration of the population increase and empowers Congress to reapportion such legislative districts which need reapportionment in order to ensure equal representation of the people in the coming 2010 national elections.

What in blazes are going on inside the heads of these legislators to propose this self-serving piece of fantasy nonsense considering that the country and the whole world is facing a global economic crisis? Do these legislators really think they are the country's answer to its economic woes that they find it hard to resist the temptation of increasing their numbers in the guise of public representation? Maybe the public will find this easier to swallow if they are assured that the budget allocated for 250 legislators in the Lower House will not be increase even if they accommodate additional 100 lawmakers in their ranks, otherwise everyone should trash these two useless bills.

The Constitution may mandate the reapportionment of legislative districts within three years following the return of every census, but it does not say that the Government has to allocate resources to implement the rip-off proposal that does not produce any substantial end-product to Filipinos.

Besides, what did the country gain in the last couple of years aside from ineffective laws with lots of loopholes and useless talking shops which legislates exemption of lawmakers' lands from land reform and granting additional benefits to their relatives employed by Congress. All such initiatives are just a waste of time and money. The only thing that will help is a revival of the economy triggered by the scrapping of pork-barrel allocation, decreased travel abroad and intensive auditing of all Congressional assets.

It has been shown several times already by different public perception surveys that the epitome of banal incompetence in the country are housed inside Congress and the new bills being proposed only further proved that some lawmakers can further sink deeper below their own inept standards. And in a remarkable move for any government official, or rather a pathetic attempt to try and persuade voters that an arrogant, out-of-touch, overpaid lawmaker is actually in tune with public feeling, the authors of those two bills are suggesting that the basic essence of the proposal is to ensure that every 250,000 population is actually equally represented in Congress.

Are there any supporting studies that determined where and how the money will be apportioned? How about a cost-benefit analysis to find out if money will be well spent if they are allocated for these two bills instead of increasing the allocation for school-buildings, public health programs and crime prevention? If they cannot prove the additional value of their proposal, then one cannot help but think that it is just another cosmetic waste of taxpayer’s money, trying to be seen to be 'doing something' in the middle of a crisis. In any case, the authors of House Bill 5962 and Senate Bill 3123 need not worry. If the country is really heading towards TRUE equality of job opportunity, then even the legislators are all going to be out of work soon.