Going to the barber is not a simple task for Ifugao Representative Teodoro "Teddy" Baguilat Jr.
Baguilat, who is used to having his hair reach as far as his waist, cannot simply go for a trim because of a vow he took while he was still starting out in politics.
“I vowed not to cut my hair (short) when I was starting out as a politician in 1995 after taking cue from the late Speaker (Ramon) Monching Mitra,” Baguilat told Yahoo! Southeast Asia.
Mitra’s oath to refuse shaving his mustache until the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos is removed from his post inspired Baguilat to take a similar cause.
“Aside from what I think that it looks good on me, it’s (having a long hair) also a sign for me to keep on fighting graft and corruption in our society as a public servant and politician,” Baguilat said.
“There is still corruption. I wouldn’t trim it off until it is eradicated,” he noted.
The congressman, who also aims to champion the welfare of Indigenous Peoples in the House of Representatives, believes corruption in the Philippines has been minimized but the fight against it should continue.
“Years (have passed) since that time, I’d say that corruption has been minimized at least in the field I’m working right now,” Baguilat said.
“As a congressman, I can actually say that in all levels of government, especially in the local government unit, there’s not too much corruption anymore,” he explained.
“The length of my hair doesn’t really matter. What matters is it is long enough to remind me that I need to push more in fight graft,” he noted.
Baguilat, who served as Ifugao governor for three consecutive terms since 2001 prior to being a congressman in 2010, admits a lot still needs to be done.
Among these to-do list is to get the ball rolling on the controversial Freedom of Information (FoI) bill to ensure people’s access to government documents of national interest.
For Baguilat, the FoI measure is the "mother of transparency" legislation, a law seen to significantly cut the culture of corruption.
Baguilat, one of the most vocal supporters for the bill during the 15th Congress, said an FoI would have prevented cases of corruption like the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
The 10-billion pork barrel scam identified several members of the Senate and House of Representatives, who donated millions of their discretionary funds to benefit a bogus foundation.
He added the 16th Congress under the Aquino administration also needs to pass Land Use Act and an Alternative Mining Law to completely eradicate corruption in the industries.
“Once we pass these, that’s the only time when we can really say we are threading Tuwid na Daan. Maybe then can I finally get a proper haircut,” Baguilat said.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino is to seek more aid when he meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week, more than a month after a monster typhoon killed thousands and left millions homeless. Aquino and Abe are expected to witness the signing of "exchanges of notes", including a post-disaster standby loan worth about 10 billion yen ($100 million), foreign office spokesman Raul Hernandez said Monday. "During the meeting the two leaders will discuss cooperation on disaster …