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NOVEMBER 14, 2005

Posted: March 6th, 2012 @ 12:23am

Mr. President, my honored colleagues of this august chamber. I once again rise before you on a point of personal privilege.

I would have rather chosen to keep quiet and not distract the attention of this honorable body from pressing concerns such as the illegal Venable Contract, the North Rail fiasco, the infamous E. O. No. 464, the corruption at the highest levels of this administration, and other scandals that have plagued this illegitimate administration.
But the issue I will address today stabs at the very core of our representative democracy – the right of every citizen to vote and to be voted into public office.

At mas higit pa diyan, Ginoong Pangulo, ang isyung ito’y naging personalan na.

Mr. President, fellow Senators of the land, I would like to bring to your attention Division Letter No. 4 issued last 17 June 2004 and re-issued this year, by Ms. Thelma M. Bueson, the Schools Division Superintendent for Catanduanes of the Deparment of Education.

This Division Letter No. 4, which was addressed by the learned Schools Division Superintendent Bueson to all District Supervisors, all Elementary School Heads and Elementary Teachers, provides for general policies and guidelines in the upbringing and education of our young minds.

Although innocuous at first glance, what piques the ire of this representation is one particular guideline on Patriotism which prods every young pupil to acquire the following learning skill or concept as follows:

“3. When I am already a voter, I will not vote into office actors, actresses, basketball players who do not know their work in Congress because they are not educated for the positions of a senator, a vice-president/president”

“4. Actor’s role in the movie/TV is not true to their real life.”

Tila hindi lamang trabaho ang pinag-uukulan ng pansin ni Gng. Bueson, kundi ito’y namemersonal na.

In my humble opinion, Mr. President, this particular guideline under Division Letter No. 4 goes against the very core of our democratic way of life and runs afoul of the fundamental law of this land.

If the learned Mrs. Bueson would only take some time to read the Constitution, she would find Section 26 of Article II illuminating as follows:

“Sec. 26. The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”

This representation may not be a career Education official like Mrs. Bueson but the provision under the fundamental law of the land is very clear – that equal access to opportunities for public service is guaranteed.

Nowhere in the constitution does it state that actors, actresses and basketball players are prohibited from occupying public offices.

If I may be allowed to ask a question: Is this the kind of work that people in the Department of Education are doing – more particularly a Superintendent of Schools?
With the enormous budget given to the Department of Education by Congress last year, it saddens this representation to see that hard-earned taxpayers’ money are being misused by higher Department officials to further their own agendas.

I need not underscore the fact that this infamous Division Letter No. 4 was promulgated and distributed to all concerned educators through the use of government funds.

This is tantamount to using government funds to discriminate against a particular sector of society.

Questions abound through the issuance of this Division Letter No. 4:

• Is this the kind of education that high DepEd officials like Mrs. Bueson are formulating and giving to our children?

• Is this the kind of attitude and perspective that high DepEd officials are inculcating in the impressionable minds of our youth?

• Why are artists and basketball players the only ones subjected to such discrimination by the DepEd?

• Why aren’t other professions such as lawyers, doctors, engineers, architects, dentists and nurses included in Division Letter No. 4?

• Is the right to be elected to public office a privileged right and monopoly of a particular profession? If so, what profession is this?

• Is this how the DepEd spends taxpayers’ money to educate our children?

If the answer to these questions by the DepEd is in the affirmative – then our future is lost.

Sayang, tila mataas pa naman ang pinagaralan ni Gng. Bueson.

How then can we hope to have a prosperous future when our children are being taught to discriminate against a particular sector of society just by virtue of their chosen profession?

Ngunit hindi po nagtatapos dito ang kwento ng Division Letter No. 4 ni Gng. Bueson.

The directive identifies three public positions that are supposedly off-limits to actors, actresses and basketball players – that of the positions of Senator, vice-president and President.

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, I take this as a personal affront not only to my person but also to others like me – humble actors, actresses and basketball players – who have worked hard to prove ourselves worthy of the task and office reposed upon us by the electorate.

This presumptuous Schools Division Superintendent has taken it upon herself to provide for the qualifications for the positions of Senator, Vice-President and even President.

Tila hind yata nagbabasa ng saligang batas itong Superintendent na ito.

Maliwanag ang nasasaad sa ating saligang batas:

“No person shall be a Senator unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, and, on the day of election, at least thirty-five years of age, able to read or write, a registered voter, and a resident of the Philippines for not less than two years immediately preceding the day of the election” (Section 3, Article VI)

And for President and Vice-President the Constitution is also very clear:

“No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election” (Section 2, Article VII)

“There shall be a Vice-President who shall have the same qualifications and term of office and be elected with and in the same manner as the President.” (Section 3, Article VII)

Ayoko namang isipin na may personal na galit si Gng. Bueson sa mga artista. Marahil nagtangka at nabigo siyang mag-artista noon, o di kaya’s nagtangkang sumali sa isang liga ng basketball.

Whatever her reasons behind Division Letter No. 4, this does not excuse the fact that such Letter is an affront not only to artists but to every voter in the country.

The impression that artists and basketball players are uneducated puts into question the integrity of the voters.

They too are indirectly accused of being uneducated in their choice to elect artists and basketball players into office and going along the so-called “pop culture” in politics.

It is not only disrespectful but unchristian, uncharitable and downright unfair.

Moreover, it is unbecoming of a Schools Division Superintendent. Mrs. Bueson not only undermines the constitutional guarantee of free access to public office for all people regardless of profession and standing in life but it also condescends against the very voters that government is supposed to serve and protect.

Although we in the movie and entertainment industry do not declare to possess higher qualification than other professionals, we are not less qualified than the others.

No one can claim monopoly of nationalism, patriotism and public service.

I would have to admit, Mr. President, that not all actors, actresses and basketball players are suited for public office.

Di tulad ng iba sa aking mga kasama sa industriya na alam naming kung kami’s angkop na manilbihan sa bayan o hindi. May mga kasama din kami na palpak na sa industriya ay pinagpipilitan pa ring lumaro sa pulitika.

In fact, there are some within our ranks in the film industry who, despite being abject failures in their own craft, are not restrained in any way from entering public service to the detriment of their constituents.

One would-be actor comes to mind whose lamentable films are virtual flops. It is no surprise then that his performance in public service is also deemed mediocre at best today.

Palpak na sa pag-aartista, palpak pa rin sa pulitika. Mas magaling pa nga umarte ang kanyang ina sa harap ng kamera.

I will never forget his mother’s impeccable acting skills in front of the camera specially when she said the now infamous line – I am sorry.

I am sorry Mr. President, but this particular colleague of mine from the movie industry is beyond any form of apology. His track record as a former vice-governor and now as a representative of his hapless constituents speaks for itself.

It is therefore appropriate that the title of his latest but forgettable foray in film encapsulates his performance on and off-screen: Sablay ka na, pasaway ka pa.

His personality is reflective of the adage that you cannot teach a wolf to become a sheep, no matter how hard you dress it up with sheep’s clothing.

Ang nakakapagtaka lamang po, Ginoong Pangulo, ay bakit po ba natin pinag-iinitan ang mga artista? Marami nga diyan sa administrasyong ito na nagpupumilit mag-artista.

Marahil ay narinig na ninyo ang biru-biruan na kung gusto mong mag-artista, magpulitiko ka muna at kung balak mo namang maging pulitiko, mag-artista ka muna.

In defense of people like me who come from show business and are now occupying public positions – we are a hardworking group.

Our society is no stranger to people who come from show business but have risen above and beyond the call of duty to serve the cause of our nation.

We have the likes of Vilma Santos who is serving her constituents in Batangas and wife to Senator Recto; Senator Vicente Sotto III who unceasingly advocated for a hardline approach towards the drug problem paving the way to the enactment of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002; Herbert Bautista who has tirelessly worked for the people of Quezon City; and my very own father President Joseph Estrada who served as mayor of San Juan, as Senator, as Vice-President and eventually through a landslide electoral victory as President of the Republic.

These people, to mention a few, have exemplified the best in public service yet they come from the movie industry.

Need I remind everyone that one of the most beloved and best Presidents of the United States of America – Ronald Reagan – was an actor.

Others followed in his wake like Clint Eastwood who served as Mayor of Carmel, California and now they have Arnold Swarzenegger as its Governor.

Mr. President, I understand that discrimination and prejudice are facets of our humanity. It is what makes us human.

But discrimination and prejudice have no place in public governance. These are the twin evils that will surely pave the road to our nation’s downfall.

It is high time that we do away from the outmoded ways of thinking.

To discriminate against a certain sector of society is a kind of thinking that characterized the Middle Ages. Wala po tayong caste system dito sa ating bansa. We from the entertainment industry are not pariahs in our society. Kami’y tao rin na mayroong maihahandog sa ikabubuti ng ating bansa

I therefore beseech every member of this august body to join me in condemning this unfair and presumptuous act of the Schools Division Superintendent for Catanduanes and demand from the DepEd they investigate the same and have the infamous Division Letter No. 4 recalled.

Perhaps in her defense, the Superintendent would rationalize that she only had good intentions behind the issuance of Division Letter No. 4, but we all know that the road to hell is oftentimes paved with good intentions.

Sa aking pagwawakas, umaasa ako na nawa’y ang mga katanungan ng inyong abang lingkod ay masagot ng mga marurunong at matatalinong kawani ng Kagawaran ng Edukasyon.



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