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December 1, 2012 / emmanintheworld

The Nonexistent Congresswoman

In the Philippines, most of the members of the House of Representatives are called epal. Epal is a slang word from the word mapapel which means someone who keeps on butting in or taking undeserved credit.

Many Congressmen are labeled epals because of the habit of politicians to place their names and pictures on wherever they can, just for the sake of exposure. If there’s a tarpaulin commemorating the city’s anniversary, then the mayor and his family’s pictures would be part of the tarpaulin. A school built using a Congressman’s pork barrel funds would have the Congressman’s name painted on the side of the building.

There was even one scenario where a politician gave out schoolbags for free to those who need it. Of course, the name and the face of that politician is on the bag itself to always remind the students of their politician’s “generosity.”

These actions are the result of politicians’ need to be everywhere at any given time so that their constituents would not easily forget their names. Politicians would also want to be as noisy as they can be so that the attention of the public is pointed towards them.

However, there is an exception to every rule.

The 1st District of Makati Congresswoman Monique Lagdameo is my representative in the House of Representative. She is a first-time politician and party member of Vice President Jejomar Binay’s PDP-Laban, which dominates the whole government of the City of Makati.

Almost three years after her election, the only picture that I saw of Cong. Lagdameo was the one that she used in the 2010 elections. As far as I know, she hasn’t shown any indication that she’s a traditional epal politician. No tarpaulins with her face on it. No school named after her. No waiting shed with her name painted on the roof. (Although, there is chance that I’m wrong and she’s focusing her campaigning efforts on the part of the district where I don’t frequent.)

However, Cong. Monique Lagdameo’s decision to not be as exposed and attention-grabby as her colleagues in the House of Representatives may be too much.

Not much is known about her educational background,  life before running for Congress, major influences, and her personal advocacy. In fact, all I know from her stint in Congress is that she has a very impressive attendance record. But her stand on RH Bill, the Sin Tax Bill, and the Freedom of Information Bill is, apparently, not public information.

My guess is that her stand on these important bills, and other issues, are dependent on the stand of her patron, VP Jejomar Binay. Binay and his political party, PDP-Laban, plucked her out of political anonymity and helped her defeat the wife of the very popular former Congressman Teddy Boy Locsin.

When push comes to shove, I’m betting that this mysterious representative from Makati is content to let others fight for their own vision of the country. She’s content to let others tell her what to do and what to vote for.

Of course, I acknowledge that what I’ve said is just my personal opinion and something that could be wholly inaccurate. But in the coming 2013 elections, she would be asking for my vote and I don’t know anything about what she’d done. How could I form informed decisions if anything about her life is private and cannot be easily found?

How could I be a dutiful citizen of the Philippines when the candidates running for Congress refuse to open themselves up to public scrutiny?

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