Amidst concern that important bills may not be passed before Congress adjourns its session for the start of election period, lawmakers at the Senate managed to find time to waste yesterday. The issue of the C-5 road extension double-pricing sparked a debacle amongst the members of the Senate, when Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile allegedly stated that presidential candidate Senator Manuel Villar Jr. promised him “favors” if he decides to kill the Senate investigation. Politics, such a meaningless affair to entertain when significant bills like one improving fiscal incentives to attract more foreign investment and another one that seeks to improve women’s protection are awaiting legislation. Bills that would serve the people well are going to wait again, since the people tasked to fulfill them found serving themselves more important.
The plan of an extension to the Circumferential-5 Road was stated in President Arroyo’s 2007 State of the Nation Address. The controversy began when Senator Villar allegedly influenced the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to have the extension pass through his real estate properties, which would then raise the value of the assets. In addition to that, The compensation pay to Villar was suspiciously overpriced. The DPWH owe money to Villar as the extension would require the clearing a part of his properties, this payment is called road-right-of-way compensation.
The allegations already put Villar’s advocacy for the poor into doubt, if he is for the people and for the country why could he just have forfeited his road-right-of-way compensation? No claim of an overprice would have happened.
Yesterday though, the investigation sparked controversies anew as Senate President Enrile accused Villar of offering him “special favors” in exchange for calling off the investigation. Villar wasn’t there though to defend himself, enigmatically, nor any of his lawyers. It was his colleagues Senator Allan Peter Cayetano and Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. who stood at his defense, against Enrile and other senators who wanted to enforce Committee Report no. 780.
At the height of all the squabbling, bickering and all the insults prompted Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago to walk out of the session. She explained her actions by saying that she was tired of all the politics, and her colleagues “unparliamentary” behavior. And “unparliamentary” it really was.
With the country eager to get back on track to economic progress, being left behind by most of our regional neighbors, the people who were specifically tasked to ensure that progress further delayed it and instead plunged the country into an even deeper turmoil. No wonder why so many people would opt not to take part in elections. The attitude shown by the people they vote for is discouraging. The process of voting is tiring, and the efforts they make is rendered useless.
The issue of the C-5 controversy is just another example of a controversy that kills precious legislation time, something as deadly as cyanide. Perhaps Cyanide-5 would be a better name for it? It kills not only our opportunity at prosperity, but the entire nation as well.