By Herbert Vego
THE dictionary defines the con man as “a man who cheats or tricks others by gaining their trust and persuading them to believe something that is not true.”
Sorry for being brutally candid, but that’s how I see legislators pushing for charter change (cha-cha), whether through a constitutional convention (con-con) or a constituent assembly (con-ass) composed of congressmen and senators themselves.
The House of Representatives has approved House Bill 7352, seeking to amend the 1987 Constitution via con-con, with 301 voting “Yes” and seven, “No”.
It’s impossible not to wonder whether money has changed hands to make them “robotic” or single-minded?
In contrast in the Senate, cha-cha adherents would rather do con-ass but with the same motive – to frame economic provisions, notably one that would allow foreign nationals to invest 100 percent in business and in real estate in the Philippines.
Now, that makes Juan wonder why they seem to be disregarding President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos who has already made it clear, “It is not a priority of my administration.”
The opposite majority stance of the House seems ironic, since our legislators have earned the “rubberstamp” distinction of following the leader.
Or are they merely staging a zarzuela to reverse their subservient image during the Duterte administration?
Heeding the advice of my childhood friend Jose Escartin, I reviewed an ANC-TV interview where host Karen Davila asked Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri on why he bats for Marcos’ “no priority” stand.
Zubiri said he does not think that a hundred percent ownership of business and real estate would attract foreign investors.
“Allowing foreigners to own land in the Philippines would inflate the prices of lots,” he said. “We Filipinos would no longer be able to afford them.”
He cited the POGO Chinese from mainland China who had already bought condo units in Metro Manila at inflated prices.
“My staff,” he revealed, “used to rent an apartment near the Senate at ₱20,000 a month. But it has gone up to ₱50,000, forcing them to relocate to Cavite.”
I know it’s true. In a past column, I had shared the story of a friend who resides in a posh subdivision in Parañaque City. He woke up one morning to find out that several of his old Filipino neighbors had vacated their homes to rent them out to the Chinese POGO operators at irresistible rates.
So far, Zubiri sees no ray of hope for either con-con or con-ass to win in the Senate, which – as in the House — would need three-fourths of the yes votes.
“I see only four or five senators in favor,” he said.
If BBM is “allergic” to cha-cha, who could have influenced the majority of congressmen and a few senators to differ?
I guess that the barking Robin and three or four more in Zubiri’s viewfinder are still fiercely royal to former President Duterte, whose family’s political fortune could go on forever in the event a new Constitution replaces the present one.
Anyway, what if they eventually agree on a compromise that would railroad a cha-cha mode to replace the present presidential system of government with a parliamentary one? In that case, the President would not be directly elected by the people but by the parliamentarians.
If so, then both Inday Sarah and Bongbong could both be parliamentarians and compete for their colleagues’ votes.
CITY HALL AND MORE POWER VERY SERIOUS IN ANTI-FIRE DRIVE
SO far, so good. This is the impression this corner gets from the joint efforts of the Iloilo City local government and MORE Power to prevent fire in this “Fire Prevention Month” of March.
Indeed, half a month has passed and the city has kept itself fire-free. Let’s go for the “no fire” goal – except in cooking and other constructive fire-consuming activities.
As this corner has repeatedly announced, the city’s power-distribution utility has gone full-blasé in its fire safety and prevention program. It has become easier now for MORE Power to convince residents to apply for legal connection rather than steal electricity because of lessons learned from the previous fires.
Not to be forgotten is the January 28, 2023 fire that levelled down 300 houses at barangays West Habog-Habog and San Juan.
“Electical in nature” was how an official of the Bureau of Fire Prevention vaguely attributed the accident to.
We asked Engr. Arvin Celis, MORE Power’s manager of the system’s loss reduction program, for a specific interpretation of that conclusion.
He would rather not, because the burned areas revealed no clues of what could have triggered the fire. But he confirmed the report that more than half of those 300 households had no record of being metered users of electricity. Therefore, they could either have pilfered electricity by attaching “jumpers” directly to the secondary lines, or plugged in with their metered neighbors.
“Both unauthorized practices could overload the system and cause fire,” Celis stressed. “You see, each household has a predetermined load limit. Pilfered or tapped power could short-circuit and overload the system so much that it would cause fire.”
As I see it from now on, once they get reconnected, fire victims would no doubt police their own ranks for fear of a repeat devastation. As the saying goes, “Mabuti pang manakawan ka, huwag lang masunugan.”