What made it a dignified body was the existence of highly qualified, highly intelligent and highly competent ladies and gentlemen that brought prestige to the institution. In return people admired, honored and respected them for their erudition and eloquence and for the service they were doing for the country.
Illustrious past senators of the realm – Claro M. Recto, Camilo Osias, Lorenzo Tañada, Lorenzo Sumulong, Quentin Paredes, Ambrosio Padilla, Francisco Soc Rodrigo, Gil Puyat, Pacita Madrigal Gonzales, Raul Manglapus, Emmanuel Pelaez, Arturo Tolentino, Maria Kalaw Katigbak, Roseller Lim, Jovito Salonga, Benigno Aquino and even Ferdinand Marcos, and many, many more – all brilliant, political stalwarts in their time and definitely pedigree conviction leaders and servant leaders.
Also, it used to be that this august body was the barometer watched by the electorate as to who was going to emerge next as a presidential timber. It was a repository of potential presidents.
But, even if some never became president they continued to be held in the highest of regards and people continued to be awed with their individual personal abilities, political acumen and senatorial prowess.
But, boy, how this bar of competence being exhibited by the present crops of senators have ridiculously fallen, it is not funny anymore! Or is it?
Alas, there is no comparison whatsoever between the present senators and the past.
An august body is a function of who are the ladies and gentlemen composing it and how cultured they all are.
Can we classify the present crop of senators as intellectuals, distinguished and high-principled?
Do I really have to ask that question?
Look who we have now?
Sadly, the caliber shown by the past senators that made them credible and honorable simply do not exist in the present members of the senate.
Today we have a potpourri of elected senators ranging from a comedian, actors, military officers, TV anchors, a renegade military officer and lawyers. At one time we had a basketball star, for crying out loud!
We have Sotto, Lapid, Revilla, and Estrada – all movie stars, who continue to act before the cameras for the big and small screen despite their being senators already!
The question now is: Are the senatorial candidates being endorsed by the LP and UNA for the May 2013 elections any better?
On the contrary it is getting worse.
Not only are we recycling the notorious, the famous and those who have established good name recall, but again we seem to be favoring the existence of political dynasties by being presented with candidates that are the wives, daughters, sons, nephews, etc., of existing politicians who don’t even have experience in governance, much less in making laws.
What qualifies, for instance, Nancy Binay to become a senator? Is being the daughter of the Vice President enough credential?
And I am not even talking about the senate’s tarnished image when the 2012 Christmas gift anomaly was exposed and the scandalous vituperation they threw at one another, unmasking them of who they really are in person. That’s how low the senate has sunk – defiled, dishonored.
If the electorate continues electing senatorial candidates based on popularity and name recall and not on their intellect and other qualifying personal credentials, then I am afraid that we will never be able to raise the bar of competence of the members of the senate now or at any time in the future.
Admittedly, running for an elective positions these days, especially for the senate, have become a sport, nay, a past time for the wealthy and the popular. Alas, majority are not competent for the position aspired.