Two weeks ago, Buhay Party List Rep. and former Manila City Mayor Joselito Atienza quarreled with his fellow congressmen in the Committee on Legislative Franchises, as well as the Committee on Good Governance and Public Accountability, of the House of Representatives of Congress.
The incident took place after Atienza criticized his colleagues for their alleged refusal to act on the pending application of the ABS-CBN broadcast network for the enactment of a new legislative franchise. That franchise expired last May and was not renewed by Congress.
Atienza said the two committees are wasting plenty of time on its hearings, and that the people are exasperated. He called the proceedings a “fishing expedition” against ABS-CBN because, he says, no proof has been shown that the network violated any provision in the Constitution and in the conditions stipulated in its expired franchise.
Those remarks came after Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla called Atienza out for the latter’s use of unparliamentary language against another colleague, Sagip Party List Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, who is firmly opposed to the enactment of a new franchise for ABS-CBN.
In particular, Remulla scored Atienza for saying that Marcoleta was “browbeating” ABS-CBN and its officials in the course of the hearings. Remulla asked that Atienza’s unparliamentary reference to Marcoleta be stricken off the record of the proceedings.
Atienza snapped back at Remulla and accused him of being one of many others monopolizing the hearings on the franchise issue.
Anakalusugan Party List Rep. Michael Defensor, vice chairman of the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, ruled in favor of Remulla.
Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, chairman of the Committee on Legislative Franchises, and Bulacan Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado, chairman of the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, disputed the sweeping accusations made by Atienza. They pointed out that even representatives who are not members of either committee are allowed to speak up and ask questions.
Observers noticed that Atienza’s rude reply to Remulla, to the effect that Remulla and other members of the House have been monopolizing the hearings, is off tangent to Remulla’s observation that Atienza used unparliamentary language against Marcoleta.
Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that Remulla and other congressmen have been monopolizing the hearings, that is not a valid excuse for Atienza to use unparliamentary language against Marcoleta, or against any of his House colleagues for that matter. Atienza’s rude behavior has no place in the House.
From what Atienza has been saying in the House proceedings and in other fora, it looks like he wants the House to act favorably, and act fast, on the franchise application of ABS-CBN.
Perhaps, the zeal Atienza has been displaying in his desire for Congress to enact a new franchise for ABS-CBN is prompted by the employment ties his son Kim Atienza has with the network. Since Kim Atienza, popularly known on television as Kuya Kim, works as a talent for ABS-CBN, the longer ABS-CBN remains off the air, the longer the younger Atienza remains out of work.
Atienza’s zeal appears to be a conflict of interest on his part, which is a violation of pertinent provisions applicable to relatives of government officials under Republic Act 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Atienza has zero credibility as a voice of public interest and sentiment.
In 2000, Atienza, who was then the city mayor of Manila, ordered the demolition of the iconic Jai Alai Building along Taft Avenue and across the Rizal Park, supposedly to give way for the construction of a new Hall of Justice for the city.
Many sectors of Philippine society, including then President Joseph Estrada, earnestly requested Atienza to spare the building, considered by local and foreign heritage experts as a masterpiece of Art Deco architecture and by historians as a famous landmark in Manila.
Atienza ignored them all, and the iconic landmark was no more.
To add insult to the national injury, Atienza’s promised Hall of Justice was never constructed.
Now, Atienza has the gall to speak up for the people.
Fortunately, there are House members like Remulla and his colleagues who can’t be bullied by Atienza.