That Senate hearing
That Senate hearing must have been uncharacteristically unlike all such hearings held before it in that the chair presiding gave a long-drawn lecture that in effect, has set the tone and direction of the congressional hearing on the WB report on alleged cartel in the public works sector. In short, lady Miriam came prepared and was able to lay the groundwork for the discussion that will ensue in accordance presumably with the context that she – quite purposively – advanced so that no one can otherwise think out of the box. And this is deemed to have succeeded from beginning to end except that somewhere in the process. Sen. Biazon practically walked out of the proceeding as he does not want to walk the path laid in advance.
Fact is, the later-on-read statement of the First Gentleman appears to connect well with the theme of what had been discussed as though it must have been prepared by lady Miriam herself. The long drawn deposition read by Atty. Rondain have made clear how ideas have perfectly converged on what the beleaguered individual has to say and what conclusions have been drawn from the indicatively scripted proceedings. It is really unlike any other Senate hearing we have witnessed as we see an ambience where everyone appears to have been tamed in how they participated. Clearly, Senate President Enrile, lady Miriam, and even old Nene – appear to have woven their ideas from the same thread.
Few other observations may have to be stated in the conduct of this Senate proceeding, First, as everybody already expected, FG did not opt to appear before the hearing and even has to blame his doctor, however condescendingly, for not allowing him to go. The doctor appears too competent to appear before such body as though there must have been an earlier assurance that he will not be grilled and his medical advice has not been seriously rebutted by yet another medical expert which should have been the case.
Second, finance secretary Teves made a good excuse about the WB report on account of a self-professed dilemma that got him torn between having to keep it confidential and to keep it disclosed before the Senate body. But there was some reported admission that he knew of the initial finding of the WB even before the final WB report came out since it has reached his knowledge but may be did not have to do anything about it, in any case. It was convincing for him to say that his department did not have the facility to conduct whatever legal option may be deemed necessary, reason why he transmitted it all too promptly to the Ombudsman.
Third, the Ombudsman appears confident that despite some perceived inaction over the WB report casting in bad light her bureau, some actions have actually been taken but cannot otherwise be completed by her Atty. Jalandoni. Incidentally, she was just too prompt to manifest to the body that she is just recently in receipt of a mailed parcel from the WB and wisely enough, made it appear, it was what could have disable them to proceed in their own investigation – documents coming late. Well said for an Ombudsman who can express herself to the apparent satisfaction of the senators present.
Fourth, former congressman Pichay did not fail to acknowledge the importance of the lecture given by the lady presiding officer that has put in context what he has to say which is nothing but a denial of any involvement in the alleged cartel attended with fraud and corruption. And this goes true with the Paras invited as well as the other resource persons invited to include a certain Boy Belleza et al. It made clear from the leading questions propounded that none of those invited and present were ever interviewed by the World Bank and therefore, the WB report is of dubious origin.
Fifth, Sen. Pia Cayetano also sounded off that there are other instances when the WB report is replete with similar allegations of fraud and corruption thereby rendering the report in question as similarly not credible. The other Cayetano appears to be be rather tamed not to antagonize the resource speakers nor did he raise eyebrows when FG’s lawyer read the statement prepared in his absence. Not much of fireworks as would have been expected of once true-blue anti-GMA politician.
And when everything is said and done, the chair has turned herself automatically, the “lady of the hour” – as though her word is law unto itself. She even somehow threaten to force that Mr. Hoffman to send to the Senate secretariat the whole compendium of WB report if not to appear under risk that he will be arrested or possibly cited in contempt. She said, rather with full confidence, that the confidentiality invoked by the WB or US for that matter can be relegated to the background and that the law, as she knows it, gives higher precedence to this work of the Senate, true or not.
And the whole proceeding ended up attacking the WB bank, the people in this organization, and lady Miriam did vent some racist overtones as to say that they are squatters in the Philippines who can be evicted, if the Senate wants to. Absent any headquarters agreement, she thinks that the WB does not enjoy what they invoked. Now, they turned the table on the source of the controversial report as to accuse the WB as being the culprit. In other words, the Senate has to shoot the messenger, not the message. They have to arrest, apprehend, summon or sanction all these WB personalities as though WB enjoys less than what it invokes as a special international entity. From hereon till this whole exercise comes to a final halt, many ideas will still surface.
From where I stand, I would think that since lady Miriam is a known rabid politically ally and supported of GMA, she should have yielded the chair to the other chairmen of the other committees equally cognizant on the subject matter of the Senate hearing in order that the indicative bias that the public has perceived of the whole proceeding to be, would have been prevented.
Like judges, some committee chairmen may have to inhibit themselves from presiding in the interest of truth. In this case, she already came out to say of the whole imbroglio over that of WB report as – walang ebidensya and accompanied by her signature smile . Still, observers cannot believed that instead, our politicians threw stones on the windows of the WB where the message that should have been treated with sense of propriety and urgency, have just been debunked, swept like dust to end where it began. There is nothing like this, elsewhere, pray tell.
PRIMER C. PAGUNURAN
UP Diliman, Quezon City Email: email@example.com