Dig­nity is in the heart

Sun.Star Pampanga - - TOPSTORIES! -

CAL­LOUS as in cru­elly in­sen­si­tive to the suf­fer­ing, and im­per­ti­nent as in rude and dis­re­spect­ful, of oth­ers were the two words that im­me­di­ately came to mind when I learned that the Se­nate is erect­ing an P8 bil­lion, but pos­si­bly P13.5 to P20 bil­lion, spank­ing new build­ing.

Se­na­tor Pan­filo Lac­son de­fended it against “small-minded crit­ics” by claim­ing the build­ing is “not for us but for those who will come af­ter us to be­have and act in the dig­nity of an ed­i­fice that is iconic, green, func­tional, and se­cure.” But quite frankly, I think he is small-minded in putting dig­nity not within the psy­che of se­na­tors but in the of­fice build­ing they work from and, by im­pli­ca­tion, in the showy cars they ride, and ex­pen­sive suits and barongs they wear, to work.

As en­vi­sioned, the build­ing is go­ing to have four tow­ers rep­re­sent­ing the four pil­lars (?) of democ­racy. But how empty is that sym­bol­ism when Filipinos have no jus­tice, no equal­ity, no free­dom and no pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion in gov­ern­ment?

When fin­ished, it will be “com­pa­ra­ble to the US Capi­tol, Ger­many’s Re­ich­stag and the Palace of West­min­ster (?).” But look­ing at its architectural de­sign, those truly iconic build­ings of rich coun­tries that take good care of their cit­i­zens will pale in com­par­i­son to the only-pre­ten­tious­ly­i­conic new Se­nate build­ing of a poor coun­try that ne­glects ba­sic ser­vices to its cit­i­zens and spends more for the con­ve­niences and lux­u­ries of high­fa­lutin pub­lic of­fi­cials.

The sym­bol­ism is empty. Peo­ple are suf­fer­ing from the in­com­pe­tence and ne­glect of a Se­nate that spends its time in­ves­ti­gat­ing and prob­ing is­sues in aid of no­body knows what. Like will some­body tell me what good has come out of all the Se­nate in­ves­ti­ga­tions? Will some­body also tell me what laws se­na­tors have crafted that are not bet­ter done by close-to-ground-ze­ropeo­ple’srep­re­sen­ta­tives in the lower house?

Se­na­tors are use­less now and will even be more use­less in a fed­eral gov­ern­ment where state coun­cilors will com­pose the equiv­a­lent of an up­per house. Hence, ex­pect them to fight tooth and nail to kill fed­er­al­ism. They will have much to lose for do­ing nothi ng.

Mil­lions of ru­ral Filipinos do not have wa­ter sys­tems for hy­giene and san­i­ta­tion and to ir­ri­gate their farms. How much will it take to pro­vide these sys­tems to our ru­ral folk? Maybe more than P8 bil­lion, but if se­na­tors were not small-minded, if they had a heart for suf­fer­ing Filipinos, P8 bil­lion could trans­late into so many ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties hav­ing safe drink­ing wa­ter sys­tems at least.

Dig­nity is in the heart. The new build­ing will sym­bol­ize noth­ing more than the Se­nate’s shame­less lack of a heart. How can se­na­tors now claim to have dig­nity when they don’t even have a heart?

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