By FREDDIE ESPIRITU
Facebook, fave to two billion users, imprints in the mind hindsights on the prevailing American democratic legislative processes. Its usually T-shirt donning dorm creator Marc Zuckerberg, this time in crisp suit, embroiled himself in a 10-hour damage control at the Capitol for two consecutive days of redeeming tanked corporate image burned out by Facebook’s momentary Waterloo, the Cambridge Analytica fiasco. Thanks to exhaustive live-streaming and TV coverage. Individuals interested in the leading social media platform got updated anytime, anywhere. This corner opts not to scribe commentary on hovering issues revolving on ethics, privacy, domination, wicked industry players, political misuse, advertising untruth, fair trade competition, nor tech-profiteering. Let the legislators flesh out acquired wisdom from blind curves into the body of laws that protect the populace.
The Zuckerberg baptism of crises largesse bares out crowning lessons on people representation and democratic principles popularly working ideally in a free society enacting laws that regulate societal and business behavior. The intelligent electorate derives in varied forms actual gauge if they committed grave mistakes in sending their legislator choices to Washington. In America, people’s vote wield enormous power. It grooves or unmakes Capitol players who renege on their duties and citizens’ expectations. Solons are disgraced if they saddle themselves in thought and performance mediocrity more so in shameful ruckus. Whatever congressional circus, power struggles and back room play in American setting however are tamed and pale in comparison with the Philippine legislative panorama in truth and consequence.
In my homeland, primordial determinants of empowering congressional actors largely depend on guns, goons and gold that almost perpetually enthrone ruling dynasties and traditional politicians. Votes are massively bought and sold thus the general populace gets the shorter end of the stick. The electoral malpractices, systemic imperfections, flawed culture and large-scale fraud have for generations institutionalized decades of governance like hell as President Manuel Luis Quezon once desired that became lingering malaise stunting the nation’s growth,empowerment and progress. Relegated in pathway to perdition is the sterling glory era of Congress when illustrious names like Claro M. Recto, Jose Diokno, Lorenzo Tanada, Diosdado Macapagal, Ferdinand Marcos, Jovito Salonga and many other brilliant minds crowned the historic institution as source of intellect, consensus and policy.
The debates were engaging that Filipinos troop to congressional hearings for scholarly clamor, satisfaction and acquisition. Later generations of lawmakers like Raul Roco, Salvador Laurel, Ramon Mitra, Aquilino Pimentel, Rene Cayetano, Juan Ponce Enrile, Miriam Santiago relived the gems of history briefly in their era. Congress has since lost whatever glittering carat that remained. You hook yourself on live broadcast or brave the metropolis traffic for personal witnessing and what you get are yawning, ridiculous, and absurd moments with celluloid actors, sportsmen, media hyped celebrities and traditional politicians.
What a pesky deterioration and degeneration Marc Zuckerberg’s sanity would not have survived has he been Filipino subpoenaed to present-day Congress.
His engagements would have run not for hours but days and weeks of distasteful grandstanding and political maneuverings. The American legislators were many times parochial in grilling the Facebook founder while venting their constituents’ interests but not starkly leveled down as in the comical, shameful and mundane proportions in the run-of-the-mill Philippine-style hearings convened in aid of legislation. Plenary proceedings disappointingly lack luster, depth, trust, faith and valued results. At least, in the American Capitol, inquiries and elicitations bear out, if not merely validate, initially studied and crafted proposals of determined legislators. Flaws of Washington lawmakers are still subtler by sheer collective accomplishments and earned respect.
I am Filipino at heart not to be mistaken as betraying the nation with these litany of disgruntlement in the supposed voice of Juan dela Cruz in what should be hailed as august halls of Congress. The present crop of Philippine lawmakers will have to earn their constituency’s respect as enshrined in the 1986 Constitution they drool in the mouth to tinker with soon. Discern within yourselves and don’t blame the basic charter. The existing US Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787 in Philadelphia. Yet, the Zuckerberg proceedings still proved the supreme law of the land still works for the American society and Congress.