The gods of Congress, those lapdogs of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, did their best. As this Congress goes, their best often has to do with dastardly deeds. Pork for one, and then resurrecting a zombie twice killed by the Supreme Court, in a million and one mechanisms that scream “discretionary funds”.
They are at their best sitting on the corpses of what could have been landmark legislation. The first was the Freedom of Information bill. The other, a long-delayed, P2000-monthly pension hike for Social Security System (SSS) members.
Apologists of this administration will tell you that Congress is a co-equal branch of government, that it’s foibles should not be blamed on the executive.
That is theoretically correct, except that these very same people ranted and raved when Congress was a lapdog of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. They were also silent when Congress turned its back on the Mamasapano probe when that hacendero screamed, enough!
Night of dishonor
On Wednesday, February 3, the lords of lard were following the wishes of Mr. Aquino, who vetoed the SSS pension-hike bill that Congress passéd with overwhelming votes.
Congress guards tussled with senior citizens who came in the hundreds to see a showdown.
There was none. Faced with the spectre of a veto override, Mr. Aquino’s congressional henchmen cut short their last working day before this year’s electoral campaign period.
They adjourned early in the night, a far cry from other years when sessions lasted till dawn just to ram through administration legislation.
The cowards were so scared they wouldn’t even allow proceedings to start, following hours of waiting for a quorum. At least 57 legislators had signed a resolution to override the veto.
And when the main author of bill, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, stood up to demand a hearing, they cut off the microphones.
The SSS pension-hike bill is dead. Or so Mr. Aquino and millionaire executives hope.
The funny thing is, hardly anyone is boasting of their “victory”. But only madmen own to a massacre. The administration people aren’t mad, they’re craven; they can’t be bothered to even make a stand.
To mask the reality of SSS members sold down the river of dirty deals, they had to kill the pension hike. How many billions were lost to bad investments of friends? How many millions exchange hands yearly so that employers get away with non-payment of premiums already deducted from workers’ salaries?
The art of Noynoying
It’s no use telling Mr. Aquino about the lives of a father and son who struggle with disease and a job that can’t even bring home the equivalent of minimum wage. They walked (and continue to walk) the straight path with premium payments. The son takes regular breaks from ferrying neighbors to check on a father laid low by stroke.
The crown prince of the kingdom of entitlement knows nothing about the daily travails of people. Nor would he care.
Mr. Aquino isn’t content with killing the SSS bill.
He wants the victims to kiss his hand as he scatters crumbs from his table.
Come, you unwashed hordes. Kneel at his feet and thank him for an offer of P500.
If Malacanang was really sincere about that, it could have negotiated while congressional hearings were going on.
Then again, if he couldn’t even be bothered doing that with the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, he wouldn’t over the SSS bill.
You see, Noynoying isn’t just the art of doing nothing.
It’s pretending to do nothing while your peons do the dirty job. Purisima and Rico Puno taught us that Mr. Aquino is a master of this art.
Mr. Aquino’s bloated pets know what exactly they engineered on February 3.
The dictionary tells us:
“A Pyrrhic victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has been victorious in some way. However, the heavy toll negates any sense of achievement or profit. Another term for this would be “hollow victory”.
Old people shouted in rage. Old people cried.
Actor Robin Padilla narrated what happened on his Facebook page.
Nanay Salve, a retired school teacher, NGO worker and trainer of people disabilities, told Ted Failon about her experience.
They gave the elderly a hard time to get in hanggang nagkakasigawan na. They were under the heat of the sun, tired and hungry old people. Then when they were allowed to get in, they were prevented to enter the main session hall until after a few more minutes. They entered the session hall, only to wait for hours and watch legislators loitering abt. Session was suspended to wait for a quorum. Late afternoon, nagutom na ang iba, lumabas. Bumalik ng alas-6. Di nila namalayan, maya-maya, bigla na lang session was resumed and declared adjourned, when neri came running to the podium to speak and contest the adjournment. He got in a sentence or two before his mic was shutdown and he was told the session was closed.
One man in a barong tagalog wept.
Fighter Ng Bayan
This is what I love about Neri Colmenares: a fighter with the courage and heart to shed tears.
Because you do not fight for decades without feeling deep down, in your guts and in your soul, what it is that makes grown men and women cry themselves to sleep at night. (That’s Morris West, in “The Shoes of the Fisherman”.)
Episodes of defeat are nothing new to Colmenares, who is running for the Senate in the 2016.
You can’t have a life as student activist, human rights lawyer and militant legislator without knowing that some battles can’t be won.
Not immediately — as the ouster of a dictator and other major landmarks have taught us.
All the gains that we now take for granted were won because some people refused to give up despite the deaths, the blows, the harassment, the mighty forces arrayed against them.
All those gains because some people did the tasks we’re either too busy or too scared to do.
Aside from the line from West, there is another that forever sticks in the mind: “Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.”
There are hard things you do even when soul weary. But you do it. Because it is right. Hindi yan nababayaran. Nasa iyo yan o wala.