Senate probe, et cetera
The Senate began a probe on the so-called ‘euro cash scandal’ involving officers from the Philippine National Police who attended the 77th Interpol General Assembly held in Russia found to have carried euro cash in excess of authorized limit and undeclared before Russian customs or immigration authorities. Indicatively bound by his lawyer’s advice, Eliseo dela Paz, the main character in the Moscow incident did a disappearing act and effectively freed self from what ought to be a full-dressed investigation initiated by the Committee on Foreign Affairs chaired by Miriam Santiago. The probe became anticlimactic as the principal accused, call it that, is a no-show. Neither can dela Paz be cited for contempt except by mere lip service since the requisite authority and procedure have to be satisfied first. The Senate failed to issue a warrant of arrest or that compelling dela Paz to appear cannot be undertaken by its own rules of procedure.
Not now that the PNP has already taken administrative action and its report to the Ombudsman already submitted for further disposition. From the Senate therefore, the legal pendulum has now swung to the other side with the Ombudsman to begin work where Senate left off. For the Senate and the Ombudsman to simultaneously conduct parallel public hearings for the same purpose would be, as Joker Arroyo says, a redundancy. It becomes expected that in so far as the case is concerned, the ball is in the court of the Ombudsman and consequently, everyone else would have to take the back seat. However, where patterns indicate, Ombudsman might prove slow in the draw in the same way it took a lot of time over the Senate report on the Joc Joc Bolante case. It bears watching what the Ombudsman’s resolve would be.
PNP involves itself in a self-contradiction. Why would it ask the PNP officers who attended the 77th Interpol to have to refund the money in this official travel as though P275,000 is peanuts? That some paid in full as some did in installment under a promissory note – does not remove whatever stain has been cast upon the Chief of PNP. For other officers involved in the disbursement of the supposed-to-be travel funds to be held administratively or even criminally liable appears to be coming from nowhere. Why would they be held responsible if the proper travel authority has been issued in connection with this official trip? From the outline, it appears that heads must roll if only to redeem the Chief of PNP from this embarrassment any other way. Is this not circumventing the conventional framework of ‘command responsibility’ applied in both the AFP and the PNP?
How the Ombudsman conducts its probe on this ‘euro cop scandal’ will now be hidden from public view as it is not of the ways of that agency to broadcast its proceedings live on TV. Knowing the facts behind the scandal will cut either way – the public will learn some or will learn none – as knowledge is contingent upon what is presented in the viewing screen. This is where the Senate probe has been grossly violated with the disappearing act of Eliseo dela Paz. No less than the DILG secretary failed to convince or compel the appearance of his subordinate to the Senate inquiry in an effort to show it is not hiding something from view. It is so perhaps because, our politicians have already been heard to have aired their biases and presumptions even before a single evidence or testimony has been laid on the surface. With Senate indicatively in a fishing expedition, it seems logical that Eliseo dela Paz opted not to oblige to the subpoena consistent with every available legal option.
If there is no one the Senate can compel to appear before its cognizant committee like in the case of Eliseo dela Paz as it is in the case of Joc Joc Bolante now, what would that reduce the institution to? The cases of dela Paz, Joc Joc, and Neri seem to share one thing in common – each of the three – disdained appearance in a public hearing sought for the purpose of investigating publicly known financial mess or scandal. There seems to be a higher order of things here where a puppeteer pulls the strings so the puppets behave in the way they should. Certainly, puppetry in this context can only be done by someone or an institution that is higher than the rest in the bureaucratic hierarchy. The token invocation of executive privilege provides security blanket for every kind of censure or rebuke as much as it effectively frustrates our justice system to work. Again, all these recent scandal, are woven from the same thread. Disturbingly, it always leaves us a white cloth. Comes another scandal of an alleged P10 million cash advance scam involving Camilo Sabio of the PCGG, what is this?
The bigger canvass against which these recent scandals are set spells of corruption in the bureaucracy giving us an embarrassing place in the popularity chart as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. That they involve high ranking officials is fast reduced as though it is a favorite pastime of every bureaucrat vested with so much power and authority. Where signs indicate, it may not be far removed that a massive paralysis in our entire body polity is about taking place. Where anything is moving, it must be moved by another and so on. In a series of motion, there ought to be a prime mover who is himself or herself not moved by another. In other words, it challenges reflection if there is one – author of all scams – where everyone else is working under his/her shadow. The tidal waves of corrupt practices in government that go unheeded are revolting to the tilt and to the nth time. Is there no one left than lady Miriam to at least attempt to stamp out corruption in government especially as the CBCP has already rang the alarm?