With only one law passed, it’s time to abolish Congress

Opinion & Analysis Philippines Jan 15, 2014 at 4:22 pm

By Atty. Romulo B. Macalintal

The very dismal performance of our legislators in 2013 with only one insignificant law enacted for that year with a whopping P35.2 Billion budget, is enough justification to call for a charter change to abolish Congress and let the provincial governors and mayors of highly urbanized cities to form the legislative assembly.  After all, these local government executives know the kind of law needed in their respective areas.  We already have enough national laws waiting implementation with some of them already obsolete.

Based on the 2013 budget of Congress, the annual appropriation for the Senate and the House of Representatives was P3.3 Billion and P6.4 Billion respectively. The amount of P500 million was the annual budget of the Commission on Appointments which is also composed of senators and representatives.  The annual pork barrel of a senator is P200 million or a total of P4.8 Billion for 24 senators; while the annual pork barrel per  a representative is P70 Million or a total of P20.2 Billion for 289 representatives.

Thus, for 2013, the estimated expenses of Congress, except for some legislators who did not fully avail of their pork barrels, could be pegged at P35.2 Billion pesos:

1.  Senate                               – P3.3B

2.  Commission on Appointments    – .5

3.  House of Representatives          – 6.4

4.  Pork Barrel of 24 Senators          – 4.8

5.  Pork Bareel of 289 Represenatives – 20.2

Total ————————-      P35.2 Billion

In that year, Congress passed only one law, the one-page R.A.10632 which suspended the 2013 Sangguniang Kabataan elections.  In other words, for only one (1) minor legislation, the entire Filipino people spent the huge amount of close to P35.2 Billion pesos.

While Congress also passed the 2014 budget in 2013, the same should not even be considered as an accomplishment since it is Congress’ obligation to pass the same, as reportedly admitted by one senator who allegedly asked not to be identified.  As a matter of fact, the constitution provides that if Congress fails to pass the budget law for a particular year, the budget for the preceding year is “deemed reenacted and shall remain in force and effect.”

Despite Congress’ high-profile investigations it conducted in previous years “in aid of legislation”, no significant or relevant laws have been enacted as a result of such legislative inquiries.

In year 2011, Senate’s budget was P2.6B; HR with P8.3B; and the CA with P400 Million.  In 2012 Senate’s budget was P2.9 Billion; HR with P5.8 Billion and the CA had P500 Million. Again, with this huge amount and their respective pork barrels, the year 2011 and 2012 did not likewise prove to be very significant years for Congress in terms of performance and accomplishment.  It only came up with the Reproductive Health Bill and the postponement of the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to synchronize with the 2013 national and local elections, as its major legislations.

With such a cheerless and disheartening accomplishments of our legislators where we spent billions and billions of pesos for their salaries and allowances, some of which could not even be audited as the same are justified by mere “certification of expenditure” without any receipt, time is of the essence that we now give serious consideration in amending our constitution with the abolition of Congress as its first priority.

The charter change could likewise be a shortcut to totally abolish the pork barrel or the PDAF instead of eradicating it through the long and tedious process of a people’s initiative or repeated filing of cases in the Supreme Court whose decision declaring the PDAF as unconstitutional is practically ignored by certain legislators by merely circumventing the spirit and meaning of the said decision.

The gigantic savings that would be generated when Congress is abolished could be properly channeled to augment the much needed rehabilitation of the areas in the Visayan region badly hit by typhoon Yolanda and other worthy projects of the government.