THE FACT speaks for itself.

If the effectiveness of the Philippine Congress, the sole body authorized by the Constitution to pass laws that govern the entire country, is measured by the number of laws its members are able to pass, then 2005 deserves a special citation for unproductiveness.

Last year, the combined forces of the country’s 24 senators and 200-something representatives were only good for six laws (Republic Acts 9335 to 9340). Of these six laws, two deal with taxation (the Expanded Value-Added Tax Law and the Lateral Attrition Law), while the rest cover various topics (the 2005 national budget, the resetting of the barangay and SK elections, the amendment of the Visayan Electric Cooperative franchise, and the naturalization of a certain Mahmoud Asfour).

It is such a lamentable fact that in 2005 all that our beloved legislators did was hold investigations in aid of legislation.

There is nothing wrong with investigations in aid of legislation if they indeed lead to new laws or the repeal or amendment of existing laws. Otherwise, these investigations are better described as in aid of reelection.

To illustrate the sorry state of the country’s current crop of legislators, the number of republic acts enacted will show the difference between then and now.

From 1946, when the first republic act was enacted under President Manuel Roxas, to September 1972, when President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law and gave unto himself the power of legislation, around 6540 RAs were passed or an average of around 250 laws per year. Since the House of Representatives and the Senate were revived under the 1987 Constitution, around 2800 laws have been enacted, including the six from 2005, for an average of around 150 laws a year.

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To highlight the decline in productivity, the public need not look far. In 2004, an election year, 101 laws were enacted even if most of the legislators then were busy campaigning three months before the May 2004 elections.

At present, the country has a good number of elected officials in Congress who can get the job done. The greatness of the few, however, is not enough to counter the ineptitude of the others given the country’s system of legislation.

Perhaps, the country will never again see noble men like Claro Recto, Sergio Osmeña Sr., Manuel Roxas, Diosdado Macapagal, Jose Diokno, Lorenzo Tañada, Jovito Salonga, and Benigno Aquino Jr., among others, grace the august halls of Congress. They were not only good at introducing measures that served the common good, but were also great statesmen.

But all is not lost. The reforms can start by educating the electorate so that incompetent people are not chosen as legislators. If the country will have educated voters, for sure, no person who can only author a law a year (which is a better average than what former President Joseph Estrada, who was primarily responsible for only two laws during his five years as a senator, had), ask for the sitting president’s resignation for any reason, initiate impeachment proceedings against the chief justice because the Supreme Court issued a ruling adverse to his interests, spend his pork-barrel as if he was withdrawing from a personal bank account, or just file resolutions seeking investigations to aid his re-election will be elected congressman or senator.

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