Why are there partylist pols like Bertiz?

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ACTS-OFW partylist Rep. Aniceto “John” Bertiz III does not belong to Congress. He belongs to thugland because he behaves like a hoodlum.

The public behavior of this high-end hooligan indicates that despite his tranquil appearance in public, he is a bully who throws his weight around precisely because he holds high public office.

“Bertiz’s reckless and lawless behavior during the past week has only notched him a dubious accomplishment: attracting more public anger than Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV did.

Last week, Bertiz became the subject of intense public criticism when it was learned that he made an ass of himself when he spoke at a formal ceremony of new agricultural and biosystems engineers. Treating the new professionals as if they were mendicants seeking favors from a two-bit traditional politician, Bertiz declared that anyone among them who did not know who “Bong” Go is will not be able to get their professional licenses. Bertiz was referring to Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, the famous special assistant of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The unexpected remark gave many people the impression that Bertiz was openly campaigning for Go in the senatorial election next year. Many more opined that Bertiz was obviously trying to curry favor from either Go or from President Duterte.

Whatever the real motivation Bertiz had, his statement was manifestly distasteful and inappropriate for the occasion. The engineers who were offended by Bertiz’s statement should take legal action against him.

Soon after that circus, Bertiz created another scene, this time at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport where he demanded special treatment. When Bertiz got none of it, he began harassing and verbally abusing the airport security personnel.

From the videogram taken of the airport incident, it appears that during a routine security check, Bertiz refused to remove his shoes, which was required of all passengers preparing to board an aircraft. An angry Bertiz flashed his special congressional identification card and then grabbed the identification card of the security personnel nearest him. Thereafter, Bertiz began shouting at the security personnel and berating them for not recognizing him as a congressman.

After the video recording went viral on the social media, Bertiz transformed from the haughty, power-drunk small-time politician to a meek and docile, harmless looking, harmless sounding lamb. He apologized for his behavior, hoping that the criticism will go away.

Bertiz’s apology, however, was accompanied by a misogynist remark — he was undergoing his “monthly period.” He belatedly realized that his contemptuous remark brought him more trouble after netizens pounced on him for the suggestion that a woman becomes uncontrolably ill-mannered each time she undergoes her monthly menstrual period.

A news source reported that to avoid further embarrassment, Bertiz apologized anew, and explained that he often makes a reference to the female menstruation period each time he has a quarrel with his wife. If that is so, then Bertiz heralded to the world how much contempt and low regard he has for women in general.

If that is how low the regard Bertiz has for his wife, he should have at least kept that fact to himself. His statement was an insult to her.

Another news source revealed that Bertiz and his family operate a recruitment agency. If that is so, then Bertiz is involved in a conflict of interest situation. As a partylist solon representing overseas workers, Bertiz should not be involved in a business that can directly benefit from any legislation Bertiz may happen to sponsor. He should be investigated by the Office of the Ombudsman for that.

As expected, a complaint was filed against Bertiz before the Ethics Committee of the House.

On the eve of the hearing on his case, however, Bertiz got himself confined at the Saint Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City allegedly for chest pains. A fellow member of the House of Representatives quipped that Bertiz was probably seeking treatment for his menstrual ailment.

His sudden visit to hospital may have bought Bertiz some time to engage in serious introspect. He will also come to realize that as a legislator, he is subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the ethics committee.

Bertiz’s reckless and lawless behavior during the past week has only notched him a dubious accomplishment: attracting more public anger than Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV did during the latter’s public display of theatrics and irrational behavior when he holed himself up in the Senate to evade arrest. Trillanes spent several years to be able to become an object of public scorn and ridicule. Bertiz managed to do the same to himself in just one week.

How can an abusive and abrasive government official like Bertiz even get elected to Congress in the first place? That is the question many people are asking.

Bertiz draws his political power from the partylist system obtaining under the Constitution. The lofty purpose of the partylist system was to allow marginalized sectors representation in the legislature which otherwise could not realistically happen in an election based on district representation.

Unfortunately, the partylist system had become corrupted as the decades passed. Political dynasties and traditional politicians have come to dominate the scene, using supposed “marginalized sectors” as their constituency. Years ago, a scion of a powerful political dynasty got himself elected partylist representative for security guards.

A military mutineer like Gary Alejano also made use of the partylist system by getting himself elected to the House through the Magdalo Party. He is now using his position to bring down the administration of President Duterte.

In the end, the partylist system has come to be dominated by sectors that are not even marginal. Many partylist representatives today do not truly represent the marginalized sector they are supposed to work for. For them, the partylist system is just another means of obtaining pure, unadulterated power.

That is why there are partylist representatives like Aniceto Bertiz III today.

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