“As lawmakers, our job is to listen to our constituents. If our phones are ringing off the hook with people demanding to know where we stand on an issue, we pay attention.” –US Senator Chris Murphy
There is no historian that can characterize an Ilonggo lawmaker as a “non-performing asset” in either the House of Representatives or Senate. They also cannot claim such legislators are (borrowing a bombshell from the late Senator Rodolfo Ganzon) “no talk and, therefore, no utok.” Almost every national legislator with Ilonggo blood has brought tremendous glory and prestige to the country; with the list of outstanding lawmakers from the Western Visayas is expanding every election year.
One of these remaining few voices today is Senator Franklin Drilon.
When they are away from the podium, Ilonggo lawmakers ensure they do not speak nonsense and avoid humiliation.
This only means one thing: The region is home to quality leaders (and quality voters).
‘The former senate president makes Ilonggos proud, especially after “schooling” neophyte Senator Francis Tolentino on the basics of “parliamentary interpellation.” Tolentino, like Drilon, is a lawyer and must’ve underestimated his colleagues’ capacity to think when he asserted President Rodrigo Duterte’s oral agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which allowed China to fish in Philippine waters, was valid and legally binding.
‘There is no restriction on either the form or substance of international agreements,” Tolentino claimed. However, Drilon responded: “Many of these I have heard for the first time. These theories, however, in our view, are not settled.”
He continued: “Following this proposition, can the President of the Republic enter into an oral or even a written agreement ceding the island of Panay, even if it is contrary to Article I of our Constitution on national territory? If there is no restriction as to form, can multilateral agreements be in the form of an oral agreement? I cannot imagine the difficulty of enforcing a verbal multilateral agreement. Can we enter into an agreement that is in conflict with the Constitution, despite the latter being an internal law of fundamental importance if we say there’s no restriction as to the substance of the verbal agreement?”
As the current senate minority leader, he believes the best test for “novel theories” are through committee hearings and not on the floor.
“I am prepared to debate on the propositions here and now, but we do not claim to have a monopoly of legal knowledge,” Drilon added. “That’s why we qualify and deny the attribution that we are a legal luminary.”
He showed one should not parade a “shallow intellectual stunt” in the presence of sharp-witted and sagacious legislators. It would be fine if Tolentino’s interpellators were Senators Lito Lapid, Manny Pacquiao, Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla, Jr., Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go, or Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa; but not the likes of a Drilon or Senator Ralph Recto.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the best female president the Philippines never had, is missed by the public—particularly, the way she unmasked charlatans, head-butted idiots, and clobbered “ninny lobcocks” during nerve-biting (but hilarious) Senate committee hearings.
Tolentino and the pack of intellectual peacocks and rattlesnakes that occupy the Senate are lucky Defensor-Santiago is no longer around.
Former President Joseph Estrada once quipped: “Pupulutin kayo sa kangkongan.”
Alex P. Vidal, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo./WDJ