Three minutes

If you were wondering why the Constitution prohibited multiple impeachment proceedings in one year, Tuesday should have clearly demonstrated its quite charitable intent. Apparently, it is to protect the sovereign Filipino people from congressmen who have three minutes each to explain their votes.

That’s 690 minutes of speeches, and the framers of the Constitution must have thought that while this country was worth dying for, it shouldn’t be out of sheer exhaustion.

This is perhaps why congressmen call their leader “Speaker”. Even in primitive societies, to the leader usually was attributed the quality to which the herd aspired. For members of Congress, they call their leader “Speaker because that is exactly what they want to be, and preferably for longer than three minutes: the one speaking.

(For largely the same reason, Senators call their leader “President”.)

In fact, the only reason I stayed up early morning Tuesday until late in the afternoon was to see if congressmen could actually limit their speeches to three minutes. This is like “Starting Over”, I said, a reality TV show featuring people who are trying to kick a bad habit and become better persons.

I’m afraid it was too much to ask. Congressmen routinely ignored the three-minute limit as if it were the “No Left Turn” sign on the corner of D. Jakosalem and Sikatuna.

“I am winding up, Mr. Speaker.” By which they meant what a toy would have meant when it said it was winding up. I don’t know how many of them began with “History will judge us…” and then went on and on as if they were actually planning to go on speaking until history did judge them.

If I were the Speaker of the House, I would have gently reminded them that although their arguments were sophomoric, this wasn’t college, that a “Yes” or “No” answer was quite sufficient, thank you, and you didn’t get extra points for long-winded explanations that needed a lot of winding up.

And should members of Congress really show the whole nation that not only could they not agree, their subjects and verbs couldn’t, either? Has the “rule of law” amended the rules of grammar? And — on the other side — must we be so unforgiving of lapses in judgment, and so liberal with those of the grammatical kind?

And how many times can one repeat “rule of law” without sounding anal-retentive? And how many congressmen can claim Torrens title over the “search for truth” before you get the feeling that they’re being sanctimonious? I actually feared that the headline the following day would read: “Toilet training prevails; massive manhunt for the truth called off”.

And how could congressmen from opposite sides of an issue quote from the very same Bible, sometimes the very same verses? Does this mean that the Bible is neutral? If that is so, can we say that God, if called to vote, would have abstained or absented Himself?

But that would have put God in a tight fix. Pro-impeachment congressmen would have quickly accused Him of making a deal with Malacañang. Perhaps a relative of His has been appointed to a government post?

Considering how many government officials think they’re God, that is one accusation the opposition would have no problem proving.

SunStar Cebu
8 September 2005


  1. Whitey Ward in Oregon says:

    Years ago when the Honda 50 first hit the market the instructions required you tickle the tickler to get it started….this referred to the choke. All that tickle let to many hours of laughter and smiles for Honda riders.


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