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Everybody unhappy

The approval by the House of Representatives this week of the proposed law bringing back the death penalty for drug-related crimes is one of those examples of Congress acting —and abjectly failing to make anyone happy by its action. And that’s what happens when our lawmakers look at their job as simply one of follow orders in exchange for personal gain, even if they can’t seem to please even the people who gave them orders.

The people opposed to the reimposition of the penalty are, quite naturally, incensed at the passage of the measure. Most of those opposed to the move to reinstate the ultimate punishment, after all, conflate its return with what they believe is the state’s policy to take life, under the administration of a supposedly bloodthirsty President Rodrigo Duterte.

But those who want the penalty returned aren’t ecstatic, either, about the proposed law that Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez labored mightily to get approved. These people are led by no less than Duterte himself, who publicly questioned the failure by the House to impose the same penalty on other serious crimes such as rape, plunder and treason.

Alvarez and his allies have had to come up with the justification that they wanted to pass the measure as soon as possible with the biggest majority they could muster, which was why the penalty was making a comeback only for drug-related crimes. But this explanation makes a mockery of the lawmaking process —it stinks to high heavens of soulless and mindless legislation, the kind that is produced by congressmen who are perfectly happy just to provide minimum compliance with the least amount of effort in order to receive the maximum in personal gain.

This is just the sort of legislation that makes many wonder why we need a Congress at all. And yet the people who inhabit the Lower House almost always take offense when their chamber is called a rubber stamp of Malacañang.

I actually think the congressmen are correct to take offense. A rubber stamp is infinitely cheaper to purchase and maintain than an entire collection of about 300 lawmakers who cannot seem to understand that they represent the people, instead of just their own self-interest.

These are the congressional “initiatives” that fuel the occasional calls to abolish the legislature. If this is all that Congress can come up with after all its posturing and bloviating, I’d have to agree that maybe we don’t really need it at all.

Administrations come and go. But Congress’ single-minded objective to feather the nests of individual legislators remains a political constant.

* * *

The communist New People’s Army struck with murderous intent yesterday, killing four policemen who were responding to a call for assistance in a remote part of the town of Bansalan, Davao del Sur. Reports said PO1 Rolly Benelayo, PO1 Joe Narvaza and PO1 Saro Mangutara, all members of Bansalan police station, and PO3 Jayden May Rabor, of the Scene of the Crime Operatives team in Digos City, were on their way to investigate a reported murder when they were set upon by the insurgents.

I don’t know how the NPA and its supposed leadership-in-exile in Europe is going to spin this atrocity, assuming they will claim authorship of it at all. All I know is, this is the sort of uncalled-for attack that has caused the Communists over the years to lose adherents to their discredited ideological cause.

There is simply no way for the rebels to justify this latest brutal attack. And I’d like to see them explain to the families of the four policemen why the cops had to die when they weren’t even pursuing the NPA.

The irony of it all is that the NPA never gets called out by the human-rights crowd for perpetrating such gruesome crimes. It’s only the security forces who go after them who get accused of violating the human rights of the rebels, whenever they seek to bring the rebels in to account for their truly heinous and offensive actions.

You could argue, as the bleeding-heart rights groups do, that only the military and the police could be held legally accountable for violations of human rights. But if you accept, as the rebels claim, that they are combatants in a long-running war, then the Communist forces should also be held liable for their atrocities.

The people, who have long suffered in silence while the NPA has continued its depredations in the countryside, know better than to sympathize with the NPA, however. Between the businessmen who have to pay off the rebels in order to buy peace and the ordinary citizens who are caught in the crossfire when they stage their attacks, it’s easy to see why the insurgents’ numbers keep decreasing and their once-large mass base has been whittled down to nearly nothing.

See, this is why the call for the government to go back to conducting peace negotiations with the Communist rebels is not getting any traction. The NPA doesn’t want peace; perhaps it’s time to give them the war that they deserve.

Topics: Jojo Robles , House of Representatives , Congress , death penalty , Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez , New People’s Army , NPA
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