Monday, March 5, 2007

They Are Not Fit To Write Our Laws

The fielding of Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III and Alan Peter Cayetano as senatorial candidates only means that the "Genuine Opposition" does not mind creating simultaneous dynasties in our exceptionally small Senate, in violation of the Constitution and the rules of decency and fairness. This is sad.

"Koko" is the son of Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr., and routinely mistaken by many for his father; and Alan is the brother of Senator Pia Cayetano, from whom we have not heard much. Both Nene and Pia will be in the Senate until 2010. Should the duo win, the Pimentels will have a larger presence in the Senate than the whole of Muslim Mindanao, and the Cayetanos will claim a privilege denied to all those who had ever sat there, not to mention the 18 million families that make up the 90- million Filipino population.

To our standing objection, the candidates have replied, "there is no law against it." This non-biodegradable nonsense has since been made the stuff of their sloganeering. Some candidates have repeated it, without realizing that in so doing, they were putting themselves in the same position as the dynasty candidates.

The Cayetano-Pimentel position is immoral, unconstitutional, and in extremely bad taste. It cannot be made the starting point of a respectable senatorial career. Good taste alone should have deterred them, but it is not just a question of good taste. It is a question of law ---moral law and constitutional law.

Article II, Section 26 of the Constitution provides: "The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law." For those who have no desire to play games with the law, there is more than enough law in this provision. But for those who want to put their personal interests above everything else, there will never be enough law, even if an enabling law existed.

It is retrograde and perverse for anyone who wants to sit in the Senate to argue that since there is no enabling law, what the Constitution says should be ignored. A trial lawyer might be forgiven such statement, but not someone who wants to write the nation's laws.

The absence of a law does not justify behavior that would be surely prohibited, if the law existed. Laws are enacted so that, even without law, the people will conduct themselves in such a manner as though there was a law that prescribed it. St. Paul's letter to the Romans (2:14-15) says: "When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness…"
Far from diminishing the constitutional mandate, therefore, the failure of Congress to enact the enabling law only sharpens the obligation of those who sit or want to sit in Congress to respect that mandate, rather than exploit the absence of an enabling law for their own personal advantage.

Adjective law defines what is justiciable, but the idea of what is right and what is wrong always precedes any enactment.. The good of society can only be secured by men and women who will act not only according to what is written in statute but above all according to what is written upon their hearts. Otherwise, our politics will remain no better than a pigsty, often unfit even for pigs.

These candidates take us for morons when they suggest ---for this is what they do ---- that they want to become senators so they could write the law that would in future prohibit people like themselves from becoming senators.

So much has been said about the candidates' supposed intelligence. If true, that can never be concealed. But moral character defines a man much more than any display of intelligence. A man of intelligence will know the difference between right and wrong, but it takes a man of character to say No to something apparently desirable but morally wrong. An intelligent man without character has nothing to say to anybody, least of all to the nation.
One who aspires to sit in the Senate must first be a man of character, whatever his level of intelligence. He should be able to argue against his self-interest and his appetite for power, pleasure or personal aggrandizement. He must be able to control his concupiscence, especially if he is truly intelligent.

Because GO failed to do its duty, the dynasty candidates now say, "let the people decide." Of course. If the process is clean, the people will decide. But one who really wants to serve the people must only propose to them that which is morally desirable. He must not propose anything immoral in the hope that the people are ignorant enough or angry enough not to know or to care about the difference. Demagogues and charlatans do that, but not men of real worth and substance.

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