Editorial: House of sycophants

·2 min read

There are uglier synonyms for “sycophant,” a word which Merriam-Webster defines as “a servile self-seeking flatterer.” And the three-syllable word best describes some members of the House of Representatives who are allies of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte.

A display of flattery happened during the separate budget deliberations on the proposed budgets for the Office of the President (OP) and the Office of the Vice President (OVP) for 2023. This happened when members of the committee on appropriations terminated the discussions fast.

News reports said the deliberations for the OP’s proposed P8.969 billion budget were terminated in less than 10 minutes early this month.

As for the OVP’s proposed P2.922 billion budget, the discussions on Wednesday, Sept. 14 were terminated faster than the deliberations for the OP’s proposed budget—it took only less than seven minutes for the House panel to do away with the democratic exercise of asking questions.

A panel member said the move was a “sign of respect” for the Vice President, who was present during the budget hearing. The opposition Makabayan bloc expressed its intention to ask questions, but they failed to do so.

This “sign of respect” can be interpreted as a sign of flattery. See, after the deliberations were terminated, Duterte thanked the House for the courtesy and she promised to aid the legislators if they need help in their projects.

What the appropriations committee members should have shown was respect—or a little respect—to their constituencies and to the discerning public at large by scrutinizing the budgets of their allies, the two top officials of the country.

The supermajority, most of whom must be members of political clans, should be reminded that the chamber they are a part of is named House of Representatives, not House of Sycophants.

When the deliberations reach the House plenary, the proposed budget for 2023 must be scrutinized. It is taxpayers’ money after all.

In an ideal representative democracy setting, lawmakers are elected to serve the interests of their constituents. Philippine democracy, sad to say, is far from that ideal setting, and, frankly speaking, it is filled with political sycophants who flatter their allies.

The discerning public and civil societies must keep their eyes wide open for any move that might be initiated by sycophant lawmakers in both chambers of Congress in the coming years as these could make or break the country.