Ever since my elementary Social Studies class discussed the branches of government, I never let go of the E.L.J mnemonic.
I know that there is an Executive Branch (the administrative), the Legislative (the ones who make laws, ordinances etc) and the Judicial (responsible for dispensing justice via the courts) and I said to myself – NEAT. I said this is no different from a team sport like volleyball wherein each player is assigned a zone. “Cover your zone and spill over only when necessary!” my coach Jake Uichico used to scream. Other game play rules I remember: The second ball should always go to the tosser so the front liners can spike the third ball. Only in cases of physical impossibility should a back liner attempt to toss it to the spiker. Otherwise – stick to your roles and leave the tossing to the expert.
Recently I have been witnessing more and more tarps of government officials being thanked for projects they have done. The President, for starters, seems to be solely responsible for every footbridge in the metro. Drive 10 kilometers in any direction you will hit a footbridge that brandishes a green tarp that says thank you to the President for it. How strange, I thought to myself – shouldn’t someone else and not the top shite be the one responsible for something so immediate (yet essential, I know) as a footbridge?
So I pinched a muscle or two from my usually lazy political science mind and tried to figure out whose job is it REALLY to come up with what. We decided to interview Marc Reyes – apparently he plans to run for Councilor in Taguig and asked him what does a Konsehal really do. I asked this because I thought Konsehals were in charge of tiny little many basic service oriented projects. Like potholes and bridge repairs and steel footbridges, for that matter. I’m not sure why but it seems like Councilors have the most tarps pock marking our streets with these utility project solutions.
And this is what I found out. (For the experienced civics mind, this is less than basic but indulge me because I didn’t know this as accurately as I should’ve)
The Municipal Council made up of Councilors acts as the Legislative branch of the municipality. The Konsehal‘s job is to craft ordinances for the district. They act like the Congress of the area while the Mayor acts as the President and the Vice-Mayor is like, well, the Speaker of the House. Did I know that? I think I had an idea but because of the obvious, I thought a Councilor was given X-amount of money (the bacon strip barrel as opposed to pork) and that they were free to do their own projects as they deem fit. I guess in a way this is true but how strange for me to find out that their primary task is to create city ordinances. Councilors are legislators.
Then I proceed to research a bit more, expanding to the House of Representatives and how they operate. Congressmen are Legislators – not administrators but it seems like I’ve seen more tarps thanking Congresspersons for bridges and roads, schools and basketball courts. Planters on the highway even. The Governor is more in charge of those infrastructural improvements – and services too like the Health Centers and the safety in Barangays they say.
It seems like everyone in the L- branch wants to do E-work. I think with E-work they have more chances of getting the edifices out where they can plaster their mugs and names. Example: a waiting shed has space for their names but just passing ordinances and laws leave their names out in the abstract record – AWAY from the line of sight of voters for the next election. Legislators think that their names ought to be seen in order to be remembered for this coming May. So we have the mushrooming of roads and bridges, basketball courts and planters courtesy of …. legislators.
Everybody acts like a Governor or a Mayor so their names are on walls. I think they do this because they understand that the voters’ minds are not as attuned to the civil duties of each public official. Legislators should legislate. I know there are more mechanisms here that I am missing out on. I am sure there are provisions for legislators creating their own infrastructure projects, are there any? Help me out here.
I don’t mind my Congressman building bridges, don’t get me wrong – I just think that if they do this more often than their primary jobs – then there is a crucial zone unguarded, uncovered and the ball can fall on that empty spot on the court. That’s how we lose in volleyball, I wonder if that’s the same in civics at all?