“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.” Margaret Heffernan
By Alex P. Vidal
AS long as it is job-related, we have no problem watching flyweight contenders Plaridel Nava and R Leone Gerochi squaring off and transforming the session hall of the Iloilo Sangguniang Panlungsod into a boxing arena.
It’s a big relief though that both city councilors canceled the bout when proverbial coolers heads intervened.
Nava has clarified that his “one-on-one” dare to Gerochi was for a debate and not for a physical engagement.
Even if it was for a physical duel, for sure Nava and Gerochi, both lawyers, did not mean to swap blows because of personal enmity.
They disputed Gerochi’s request for a copy of Nava’s committee report on the recent 1st Muti-sectoral Transportation Summit.
Nava resented Gerochi’s actuation as they both belong in a bloc called “Voltes 5” which supposedly had a tacit agreement not to badger a member who is making a speech.
The bone of contention was still related to public service.
The paramount concern of our elected officials is public service.
Therefore, the would-be non-title setto was for exhibition only, an offshoot of a boiling blood and hot temper.
Wala personalan. Obra lang. (No personal feud. It’s all work-related.)
Quarreling or engaging in fisticuffs is not an earth-shaking scenario among members of the legislative body.
In fact, it’s a healthy sign in a democratic institution.
As long as it is not violent and not intended to terrorize people, rational argument should be a perfect venue to ventilate disagreement and grievances.
Even before the age of Youtube, social media and “selfie” technology, we have seen so many violent fracases “live” on TV involving senior state legislators in Taiwan, Turkey, Italy, Japan, Yugoslavia, Greece and other highly industrialized countries.
Fistfights among legislators in these countries would even last for three to five minutes and the melee even involved party mates who joined the fray from the balcony.
In democracy, every individual has the right to agree and disagree and translate the debate into a “one-on-one” brawl if necessary but not mandatory.
Sessions can sometimes be emotional and as tempers flare up, a free-for-all rumble becomes inevitable among the hot heads.
After the negative emotions have been emptied and energies zapped, the protagonists are soon back to normal lives; they shake hands, “bury the hatchet, and let bygones be bygones.”
In a fascist or communist state, there is nothing to dispute because there are no legislatures in the first place.
It’s a one-man rule.
In a fascist regime like that of Germany’s Adolf Hitler and Italy’s Benito Mussolini, there are no committee reports for the legislators as the latter don’t exist.
In communist rules, Russia’s Josef Stalin and Cuba’s Fidel Castro called the shots and shot the opposition dead. Democracy is dead, too.
Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and Castro were the heads of their governments as dictators.
No national assembly.
No debate. No freedom to express. No free speech.
No democratic check and balance.
WE smell politics in the decision of Dumangas municipal councilors Jasmin Ocampo, Rene Dela Peña, Almar Marfito, Bert Celeste and Ronaldo Golez not to approve the resolution endorsing the issuance of a development permit to the National Housing Authority’s (NHA) resettlement project here for residents displaced by super typhoon “Yolanda” or Haiyan during their regular session on February 18.
The five are known political enemies of Mayor Rolando “Rolly” Distura, thus some people suspect politics was behind their lackadaisical attitude.
Distura said the NHA will be building over 7,000 housing units totaling around P2.1 billion.
But Golez, who lost to Distura for mayor in the recent local elections, insisted “they wanted more time to scrutinize” the housing project.
While they were dilly-dallying the resolution, some 1,000 irate housing project beneficiaries were getting restless outside the municipal hall.
The beneficiaries, mostly residents of identified danger zones in Dumangas areas frequently flooded such as river banks and low-laying areas, didn’t care about the political bickering among municipal officials.
They wanted a decent housing and safe environment. That’s all.
They didn’t want to be caught in the middle of the conflict between Distura and the opposition municipal councilors.
We hope warring Dumangas officials will set aside their animosity first for the good of the people.