“Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.” George Bernard Shaw
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — It is believed that the best-ever Senate in the Philippines was the Sixth Congress in 1966-1969 headed by Senate President Arturo M. Tolentino.
The batch produced some of the country’s greatest statesmen and brilliant lawmakers like Alejandro D. Almendras, Gaudencio E. Antonino, Magnolia W. Antonino, Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. (President Noynoy’s father), Dominador R. Aytona, and the marvelous Jose W. Diokno
Sixth Congress also saw the rise of the “Stormy Petrel of the South”, Iloilo City’s Rodolfo T. Ganzon, idol of the timawa (poor).
There was also Eva Estrada Kalaw, Maria Kalaw Katigbak, Wenceslao R. Lagumbay, Juan R. Liwag, Genaro F. Magsaysay, Manuel P. Manahan Raul S. Manglapus, and Camilo Osias.
Cebu’s Sergio Osmeña, Jr. was a member of that illustrious batch along with Emmanuel N. Pelaez, Leonardo P. Perez, Gil J. Puyat, Francisco Soc Rodrigo, Gerardo M. Roxas (Mar’s father), the eminent Jovito R. Salonga, human rights behemoth Lorenzo M. Tañada, Lorenzo G. Teves, and Tecla San Andres Ziga.
The Senate Seventh Congress (1970-1973) led by Senate President Gil J. Puyat was also making waves, what with the presence of comebacking Ambrosio B. Padilla, team captain of the RP basketball team that placed third in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, who first won as senator after he resigned as solicitor general under President Ramon Magsaysay in 1957.
But Martial Law cut short the senators’ tenure in 1972.
President Ferdinand Marcos subsequently phased out the Legislature as the country’s new Constitution transformed the system of government from presidential to parliamentary.
When democracy was restored after EDSA Revolution in 1986, the Senate Eight Congress (1987-1992) led by Senate President Jovito Salonga produced yet the country’s most dynamic and prolific leaders like Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Rene Saguisag, Edgardo Angara, Wigberto Tanada, Teopisto Guingona Jr., Joey Lina, Orlando Mercado, Heherson Alvarez, and the lone survivor from the opposition, Martial Law architect Juan Ponce Enrile.
Now Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. was the lone casualty from the President Cory Aquino-blessed administration senatorial ticket that nearly scored a sweep (Enrile bumped off Defensor for the 24th slot).
It was in the Senate Ninth Congress (1992-1995) led by Senate President Neptali Gonzalez where film comedian and action stars like Vicente Sotto III, Ramon Revilla Sr. and Freddie Webb started to make their present felt.
PBA playing-coach Robert Jaworski and putschist Gringo Honasan followed suit in the Senate 11th Congress (1998-2001) headed by Senate President Marcelo B. Fernan.
To add insult, action stars Lito Lapid, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., and Jinggoy Estrada completed the Senate 13th Congress (2004-2007) led by Senate President Franklin Drilon.
Another putschist Antonio Trillanes IV made it in the Senate 14th Congress (2007-2010) led by Senate President Manuel Villar.
And finally in the Senate 16th Congress (2013-2016) currently headed anew by Senate President Franklin Drilon, Ma. Lourdes “Nancy” Binay stole the limelight.
To compound the matter, the Senate 17th Congress is heading for another “disaster” with the “imminent” arrival of former bold star Alma Moreno and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.
When Pericles died in 429 BC, the Greeks mourned the loss of arguably the most prominent and influential statesman, orator and general of Athens during the Golden Age.
When Draco died in 600 BC, the Greeks wept the departure of Ancient Greece’s first recorded legislator who laid down Greece’s first constitution known as Draconion Constitution.
Donde estas ahora or where are you now, the Philippines’ Pericles and Draco?