Bud­get woes? Think North Korea!

The Freeman - - OPINION -

For the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to give the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights a bud­get of only P1,000 in­stead of the P678 mil­lion it was seek­ing is not un­demo­cratic, as sug­gested by Vice President Leni Ro­bredo. The amount may be friv­o­lous. And it may have abused its power of dis­cre­tion. But democ­racy was never in ques­tion over what the House did. For the vice president to say so is, to say the least, off the mark.

The power of the purse re­sides with Con­gress, a power vested in it by the Con­sti­tu­tion. As rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the peo­ple, it is an author­ity that em­anates from them. In­stead of be­ing un­demo­cratic or be­ing a threat to democ­racy, noth­ing in fact can be more demo­cratic. If, in the ex­er­cise of that power, cer­tain abuses are com­mit­ted by in­di­vid­ual mem­bers of Con­gress, then there are demo­cratic means of rec­ti­fy­ing those abuses.

Those in­di­vid­ual mem­bers, for in­stance, may be pun­ished by the peo­ple in the next elec­tions. And to politi­cians, no pun­ish­ment is harsher and more painful than fail­ure to get elected. But that is the demo­cratic way. As to the power to con­tinue dis­burs­ing pub­lic money the way it sees fit, for as long as that power does not get with­drawn or re­pealed by a con­sti­tu­tional act, then that will re­main the demo­cratic, if net­tle­some, way of al­lo­cat­ing pub­lic money.

It is, there­fore, not a prob­lem in­volv­ing the in­sti­tu­tion but of the peo­ple be­long­ing to it. If there are peo­ple whose brains are too small to han­dle all that power, then that is just the price we have to pay for choos­ing democ­racy to rule our lives. Those peo­ple did not thrust them­selves into of­fice. We did. We were di­rect and will­ing par­tic­i­pants in their in­stal­la­tion.

There are times when Con­gress acts in ac­cor­dance with pub­lic ex­pec­ta­tions and there are times when it does not. And it is not whether it acts more of­ten one way and less of­ten the other. It is how we ac­cept its lim­i­ta­tions and im­per­fec­tions be­cause, quite frankly, we have no choice. We are stuck with democ­racy, es­pe­cially our brand of democ­racy, so ei­ther we learn to get cozy with it or we do not.

We may not like what Con­gress did. What it did may have been wrong. But that is democ­racy in ac­tion. It shows democ­racy is alive and well in the Philip­pines. For things could have been far worse, just as they are in other coun­tries. In North Korea, for ex­am­ple, no­body knows how their bud­gets are made, or if they even have a bud­get at all. Yet, if their leader gives noth­ing, ev­ery­one will clap. They must be happy in what is of­fi­cially called the Demo­cratic Peo­ple's Repub­lic of Korea.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.