MANILA, Philippines–An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines weighed in on the fashion spectacle that usually attends the annual State of the Nation Address and made a suggestion: Discard the red carpet.
“In the first place, why roll out the red carpet? If they remove that, nobody will walk there,” said CBCP secretary general Msgr. Joselito Asis in an interview with reporters Wednesday.
Asis also expressed apprehension over Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s proposal of imposing a uniform for lawmakers during the President’s SONA as such measure might entail additional expenses on the part of the government.
“If that will become a law, that means there will be a budget provision for their uniform and if it shall be financed by the office, that will mean another expense by the government,” Asis pointed out.
The priest said he hopes lawmakers would think of a better measure to address what Santiago called “the obsession to bling” instead of pushing for a uniform that will be used only once a year.
Following President Aquino’s SONA on Monday, Santiago denounced the extravagant floor-length gowns worn by women legislators, noting that many of these were created by high-end designers and that the SONA was not the proper venue for such.
The feisty lawmaker instead proposed that they wear simple yet smart and stylish clothing that would indicate membership in the Senate and the House of Representatives to distinguish them from the other visitors.
Asis said there was nothing wrong about lawmakers dressing up lavishly for the annual occasion for as long as the money used to pay finance their attire comes from their own pockets and not from government coffers.
“It’s their right to dress up but they must make sure that they spend their own money for that. It’s bad when they used government money for their outfit,” said the CBCP official.
He also suggested that it would also be better to check who paid for the outfits of these lawmakers, “whether it was charged to their personal fund or to their offices.”