April 26, 2018, 7:21 pm
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The pintakasi and the kulasisi

Given the time and money it wastes, the legislature has come to be our fattest, most cost-ineffective and expensive white elephant. Whenever a scandal erupts within its halls it almost always has little to do with democratic lawmaking, economic governance, educational development, or even about political ideology as democratic space licenses lawmakers to debate. Instead it is always about partisanship, betrayal, backstabbing, the abuse of privilege, thievery of state coffers and downright crude and crass criminality. 

Be it within the House of Representatives built over a mountain of garbage or the Senate settled along cisterns where the metropolis’s untreated sewage is discharged.

And just when we thought we had seen some relief from those monetarily conflicted among the Commission on Appointments who refuse to yield to the most basic and decent act of recusing themselves from deciding the fate of an honest and decent cabinet appointee whose portfolio directly impacts on their personal cashflows, within weeks, again we are assaulted with the noxious stink of base and shameless congressional indecency.

Those we call honorable have discovered deeper depths to sink to and have now ended up in an aptly labeled chicken fight traditionally known as a “pintakasi.” While technically the word has two meanings, one being an “intercessor,” and the other, a cockfighting derby, we loosely refer to the second.

To update on serial congressional scandals, the latest involves a degrading pintakasi among mistresses or concubines colloquially called “kulasisi.” Hence, our title.

In recent history the reputation of our legislative chambers had started sinking into both the slime and mud when the public started viewing congressional hearings as a cheap substitute for TV gameshows, noontime variety shows and the mid-afternoon and early evening telenovelas whether imported or the home-grown tearjerker cum slap-fest variety specifically produced to sell laundry soap.

The impeachment of a former president had started a trend and was an immediate blockbuster that not only rivalled the most tacky and tasteless serials and soaps but, based on what seemed like reality, it depicted the high and mighty as nothing more than lowlife and earthy clowns. 

The first impeachment and another that followed were a series of comic relief ever so briefly interspersed with moments of drama. That it was a tableau of the most ludicrous was nothing new. At least not to those congressional beat reporters who had to suffer the circus on a daily basis seeking signs of intelligent life and a tabloid sound-byte worthy of the six o’clock news.

Unfortunately the networks soon discovered the kitschy entertainment value of politics. When network executives saw the reactions, and the popular following, then they began investing in live TV in the once low-viewership afternoons. Comedy, gross stupidity, insults and the ugly reality of the powerful plotting and squirming in their guilt brought in the ratings and delivered unprecedented bottomline profits. Indeed, there is money to be made in garbage.

And like a backed-up toilet, the new TV stars were full of it.

As politics degraded into cheap and crude entertainment so did legislation. Hearings were un-attended unless these had entertainment value and media coverage. It was a matter of garbage-in and garbage-out. The cast grandstanded with hyperbolic scripts. As the legislature’s cast of characters drew in the worst players, the most ill-experienced and uneducated if not the most unintelligent that constituencies could elect as those who might both represent them on one end while entertain tasteless requisites on another, priorities morphed from serious lawmaking to tragicomic and unproductive sycophantic investigations in aid of politicking.

This sickening scandal among congressional mistresses is perhaps one of the basest examples of what these characters have turned our legislature into.

Foremost is that it is immediately a criminal violation of laws. One, written statutes on adultery, concubinage, bigamy, marital infidelity and psychological abuse crafted by legislators themselves. The other, a rule among decent and civilized men. The statutes on the conduct of all including civil servants impose a fit and proper requisite among public servants encompassing those from the president down to street-sweepers. Somewhere near the bottom are our lawmakers. Likewise, laws on decency need not be read nor written but must be enforced as a much as unwritten constitutions are.

This kulasisi scandal exposes a dishonest double standard among legislators and how they perceive themselves against the public that installed and funds them. Was it not fairly recent that they shamed themselves, giggling like prepubescent testosterone-challenged bullies revelling in the crassest language to berate a lady senator on what they described as her unusual relationship with someone they imagine was beneath her?

Ancient cultures would have condemned their illicit and shameful vices especially when literally exposed centerstage. Their kulasisi would have been stoned as penance. In our case, those involved justified home-breakers simply by declaring it commonplace, proudly defiant and describing sleazy extramarital dalliances as “kaligayahan” or bliss.

As the sovereign constituency, this is our fault. We earmark and waste billions from taxes to fatten the legislature, yet we mindlessly extol and install as lawmakers ethical miscreants who cannot discern right from wrong.
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