Have you decided on who you’ll vote for congressman of your district yet? Have you tried looking beyond the hype of the executive, and instead analyzed the people who could be senators soon? Or have you been too caught up in the nationwide fanaticism that surrounds the 2016 presidential elections, you’ve probably forgotten that there are dozens or so other people you’ll have to vote into office as well?
There are fifty senators vying for the twelve seats in this year’s Philippine senate elections, including a motley mix of familiar incumbents, various celebrities, the usual unknowns, the princess of a royal family, and of course Manny Pacquiao. If this is your first time looking at the list of the 2016 senatorial candidates, it just might be enough to make you throw up a little.
As for whoever sits in the 2016 Congress, I’d rather not start with the possibly hundreds of names that have popped up nationwide. Up here in the lone district of Baguio, I already have to deal with three wacky personalities who supposedly have the best interests of this dying City in mind.
The point here is that the people who we elect as Senators or Representatives are probably even more important than whoever dipshits we elect as president. The Philippine House of Representatives is as fetid a cesspool as the President’s cabinet; however, it is that same cesspool that crafts national laws and forms various “Blue Ribbon Committees” that do stuff that we mere peasants ogle about when we watch the late night news. They have continuous active representation of their district constituents beyond the electoral period (meaning, if you have qualms about how the national government works, you can’t just go complain directly to the President; you first bitch about it to your Congressman instead).
Additionally (and more importantly), in many cases, when the President wants something big done, he or she must ask Congress for permission first. If the President is lucky to have a lot of allies in Congress, then the President’s request could most likely be granted. A clever President knows that he or she needs allies in Congress; doing away with them entirely would not only provoke loud opposition, but would likely bring about abject disapproval from a world that continues to monitor the country’s economic potential. And that’s where the numbers in the House of Representatives come in: whether you as a voter like the next President or not, the number of congressional allies ultimately determines if the President gets what he or she wants. Sometimes it works passively as well: ever wonder why the so-called Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, one of BS Aquino’s most blatant campaign promises back in 2010, never made it into law? Because he was never really into it in the first place, and he had summoned the numbers in Congress to not prioritize it.
(As a side note, both the Upper and Lower Houses of Congress have the authority to impeach the President; history has shown us they can do this with varying degrees of success — again, it’s the numbers that determine if such an endeavor succeeds or fails.)
To reiterate, Legislative numbers are in this writer’s opinion much more important than whoever we elect as President or Vice President. I’ve met a lot of people who’ve been speaking to me about who they’ll be voting for the top two Executive positions, but I have yet to encounter anyone who would talk clearly about their picks for Senators or even Congressman. Also, there’s what I’d like to call the “Chop Suey Phenomena”: people seem to know all too well who they’d vote for the top positions, but seem to be vague and inconsistent with their senatorial picks. Honestly, I suffered from the same malady back in 2010; I barely knew anything about one political party’s senatorial bets except “SLAMAT LORRRD.” (Lesson learned, hence this article.) Does this mean that voters have too much time spreading memes about the top personalities, yet spend too little on the personalities just below? No wonder a variety show host is at the top of the most current surveys.
Here’s a hint: the majority of candidates for the 2016 Legislative positions (excluding Party List Representatives) come from the two ruling parties: the majority Liberal Party and the Nationalists. Whoever you vote as President has to deal with this reality, and must know how to use this to his or her advantage if he or she wants to prevent becoming a lame duck ruler during the regime. And whatever decisions the President makes — or fails to make — might ultimately fall on why you chose who you voted for in the House of Representatives in the first place.
So, Presidential/Vice Presidential choices aside, what do you know about the candidates who might soon be making our laws?
[Photo courtesy of interaksyon.com]
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