01 August 2009

Jetset Kibitzers

Photo courtesy of GMANews.TV
After delivering her feisty State of the Nation Address (SONA) last 27 July 2009, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is off to conquer another milestone - to be the first Southeast Asian head of state to be invited at the White House. The public do not have any problems with that, in fact they would gladly boast about this accomplishment in the coming years or so, but what caught the ire of many ordinary workers who had to toil daily just to earn a decent meal for their family is the idea that she needs to bring at least 21 congressmen and two senators with her just to meet President Barack Obama.

Everyone can understand that Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile should be included in her entourage and maybe even Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago as chair of the Senate Committee on foreign relations, but why Senator Manuel "Lito" Lapid?

What significant law was proposed, defended and passed by an increasingly beleaguered, bedraggled and inept Senator from Pampanga that would entitle him to spend the taxpayer's money for a trip that does not involved him or any, if there are any, policy that he authored?

When GMANews.TV asked Senator Enrile what would be Lapid’s role in the trip, he candidly said: "I don’t know. There must be a reason why he was brought along. I am not privy to it."

If nobody in that party knows why you are there in the first place, then it probably means that you are simply insignificant and had no business tagging along for the ride. Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri tried to defend the expenses in official trips by saying they are usually charged against the senator’s travel allowance or personal money. Does he really expect the public to accept this bullshit of an explanation? Even a ten-year old could think of a better excuse than this.

Where did the the money for the travel allowance come from? The answer is simple Senator Zubiri - from the TAXPAYERS. So please, stop playing everyone with this stupid answer.

At the House of Representatives, a copy of the "1st endorsement" listed 20 congressmen as among the members of President Arroyo's official entourage for her week-long US visit. The document, obtained by reporters on 22 July 2009, was signed by House Secretary General Marilyn Barua-Yap.

The document said the congressmen are entitled to travel tax exemption and "will be accompanied by their respective spouses who will be traveling at their own expense." There goes that stupid answer again. Do they really think everyone is a fool that they cannot differentiate between an elaborate junket to cover a lavish taste to get an autograph picture of President Obama and an official, justifiable and sincere foreign relations trip? Don't forget those spouses.

These congressmen were:
  1. Marikina Rep. Del de Guzman
  2. Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales, Jr.
  3. Pampanga Rep. Anna York Bondoc
  4. Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante, Jr.
  5. Manila Rep. Ma. Zenaida Angping
  6. Cebu Rep. Ramon Durano, VI
  7. Cebu Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz
  8. Camarines Sur Felix Alfelor
  9. Quezon City Rep. Mary Ann Susano
  10. Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella
  11. Batangas Rep. Hermilando Mandanas
  12. Deputy Speaker Amelita Villarosa
  13. Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romuladez
  14. Palawan Rep. Antonio Alvarez
  15. Abra Rep. Cecilia Seares-Luna
  16. Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez
  17. Malabon Rep. Alvin Sandoval
  18. Pangasinan Rep. Rachel Arenas
  19. Bohol Rep. Edgar Chatto
  20. Quezon City (1st District) Rep. Vincent Crisologo
While he is not on the list, Speaker Prospero Nograles was also among the President's entourage.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said President Arroyo will have a meeting with Obama on 30 July and is scheduled to return to the country on 5 August. As for the rest, their return has not been confirmed, but most probably after they have finished spending to the last centavo, the amount of spending money they believe in their delusion they are entitled to. They are lavishly spending money that only a handful of Filipinos can hope to earn in their lifetime.

The next thing everyone will hear is that leaders in both chambers of Congress will appeal for understanding and insist that there should be no politicking whatsoever since there are more work to be done. However, as usual, the public will not hear any elaboration on how work was going to be done with all these politicians taking their sweet time abroad, while the economy is close to falling into a recession.

If this is not a good example of banal incompetence and inexperienced naivety, then everyone better call these lawmakers the ideal choir boys.