THE 14TH Congress will open its second regular session on Monday with a spit-polished image, amid massive renovation efforts for the Marcos-era Batasang Pambansa building, home to the House of Representatives.
Largely cosmetic, the frenzied makeover has secured an initial funding of P200 million from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, but once completed will cost taxpayers almost a billion pesos.
THE CONSTITUTIONAL convention that met in 1971 was formed because of a growing public perception that the country was in crisis and needed drastic change. There was a clamor for a new constitution, particularly in the light of suspicions that Marcos had cheated and spent heavily in the 1969 elections in order to win a second term.
If businessmen, politicians and student activists all wanted a new charter then, it was because they hoped to curtail the powers of the president and to reform what they thought was a rotten political system. The political opposition, in particular, wanted to block Marcos’s attempts to perpetuate himself in power by shifting to a parliamentary form of government.
THE POLITICS in the House of Representatives has traditionally been defined by the struggle among legislators for the perks of a Congress seat. These are power, money, and prestige.
AS THE 13th Congress opens today, Jose de Venecia Jr. – Speaker of three previous post-Marcos Congresses and tireless architect of rainbow coalitions – finds himself in the middle of a scramble for power, money, and prestige more vicious than any he had experienced since he first became Speaker of the House in 1992.
GEORGE TRIVIÑO, Ital-Thai’s Philippine representative, was livid when he found out that the company had begun negotiating the purchase of three reclaimed islands in Manila Bay without his knowledge.
SINCE THE nineteenth century, discreet brokers, many of them ethnic Chinese, have played a key but often invisible role in Philippine politics. Filipino officials have relied on such middlemen to make under-the-table arrangements away from the glare of public scrutiny.
ON FRIDAY, April 28, 1995, George Triviño, a convicted gold smuggler with a long history of wheeling-dealing, received 31 checks totaling P300 million from the Amari Coastal Bay Resources Corp., a Thai-Filipino company that had just entered into a P1.8-billion contract with the government to buy reclaimed property off the Manila-Cavite coastal road.