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‘Senex’

By Erik Espina

THE word senate came from the Latin “senex,” meaning old men. This reflects the expected, if not required, ethos of men imbued with the wisdom of age, animating the Upper House. Age expressed and unconfined to number in years, but of temperament, vision, and the full lessons of experience, if not caution in legislative work. The Senate’s greatest role is of statesmen, as elders conscious of oversight vis-a-vis colleagues in the Lower Chamber, steering the fate of a greater constituency, nationwide.

As is the natural tendency in the House of Representatives elected by districts, and their total number unlimited but by the increase in population (one congressman per 250,000 population), is so unlike the limited and rarefied number of our 24 senators.

The members of the House, are expected to respond in the penumbra of presidential influence, pressing district concerns, making political loyalty and haste the greater value over a more circumspect analysis of the causal and national picture.

Here is the legislative pendulum swinging. The congressmen representing immediacy of on-the-ground reality, exuberance and impatience for action. Their counterpart in the Upper House, purveyors of the sublime calculus of brakes on power, in the tested formulae of “check-and-balance” within our Congress. And when required, even question, nay challenge, the policy directions of the Executive Branch. Elected-at-large, they too have the responsibility to provide the sovereign people their individual or collective alternative to the future of our country. This working system between three Branches of Government, is the mix closest to an ideal under human conditions. Predictable excesses or miss-steps of one House, may still be subject to review by another chamber, as a second chance to correcting legislation in passing a better, amended, or revised law. Two Houses is better than one. A nationally elected president by a sovereign people once divided by ethnicities, is always best to bridge such cleavages, or over a chamber electing/conspiring the next prime minister, or constitution. This is, the wisdom of old and our history.

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