Choose legislators wisely, lawmakers urge electorate

February 4, 2013 11:40 pm 

By Cielito Reganit

MANILA, Feb. 4 – “Legislation is a full time responsibility. We must choose our senatorial candidates wisely.”

Thus urged former Sen. Rene Saguisag, Liberal Party stalwart and Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III, and former Sen. Ernesto Maceda, a senatorial candidate of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) during the “Paghahanda para sa Hatol ng Bayan” program of the Media ng Bayan.

Saguisag stressed that being a Senator of the Republic is a full time job and carried with it a great responsibility to the Filipino people as he took issue with the number of actor/actress-politicians in the legislature.

He firmly believed that showbiz personalities-turned- politicians should shun the show business while serving as lawmakers like what is being practiced in the United States.

“(Former US president) Ronald Reagan and (former California governor) Arnold Schwarzenegger were former actors; but they shunned the show business altogether when they were elected into office,” the veteran lawmaker noted.

“Dito ka lang makakakita ng senador tapos nagsho-showbiz pa rin. Parang sideline na lang yung kapakanan ng milyung-milyong Pilipino,” Saguisag said.

“This should never be allowed. This should be deemed unethical both for the network and the senator elected. The welfare of the country should be given more importance than self-interest,” he stressed.

Tañada himself agreed with the veteran lawmaker.

The Quezon lawmaker, who hails from a line of outstanding lawmakers, said it is about time the Constitutional requirements on being a senator be reviewed.

While the Constitution does not bar non-lawyers from running for the Senate, Tañada, who is also a lawyer, noted that the law is stacked against lawyers.

He said: “Lawyers cannot practice law while holding public office. It is something that can not be said on (sic) other professions like doctors, showbiz personalities and all others.

"If lawyers cannot appear in court while being a lawmaker, other professionals should also barred from practicing their professions while in office.”

For his part, Maceda, a former Senate President, said the sheer volume of legislation passing through the Senate would preclude the practice of any other profession.

The work of a legislator is to review and act on measures submitted to the chamber, he said.

“Once legislation is to be voted upon, a senator must know extensively the pros and cons of any given bill. One must actively participate in the committee hearings, floor discussions and the debates,” he said, evoking his long stint in the Senate.

“If legislation is to be taken seriously, there would be no time to engage in one’s personal profession,” he noted.

In this regard, the three lawmakers urged the electorate to make a thorough assessment on the qualifications of each candidate before voting them into office.

Tañada called on the people to meticulously assess their candidates, not only for senators, but also for all other positions at stake in the upcoming elections.

“We must choose candidates who can really bring peace and development in our country and our local municipalities. It is very important to carefully look into the advocacies of each candidate and elect those who could really help improve the lives of the people in the years to come. A good politician is one who thinks beyond the party for the good of the people,” the LP spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Maceda said that people must not elect candidates from only one party.

“In any democracy, there is always an opposition to act as fiscalizer to the majority party,” he said.

For his part, Sagusag said once a candidate is elected into office, a senator, or any public official, could not be easily removed.

“A politician looks only at the next elections; a statesman looks at the next generation. We must be careful about our choices in the 2013 elections. May we never cease to dream,” Saguisag said.

The Media ng Bayan is government media partnership composed of the Philippines News Agency, People’s Television Network (PTV-4), Philippine Information Agency and the Philippine Broadcasting Services.

The Paghahanda para sa Hatol ng Bayan serves as a primer for Filipino voters in the rundown to this year’s mid-term elections on May 13 to give them the proper perspective in choosing their respective candidates (PNA)

HBC/CMR

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