Friday, November 14

The Complainer: 2nd Edition - Joc Joc and the State of the Philippine Senate

After Joc Joc Bolante appeared before the Senate for the first hearing on the Fertilizer Scam yesterday we finally saw what we all knew all along: the Senate is inept.

Okay let me revise that. We learned two things:

1) Joc Joc is probably lying.

2) Most of our Senators are inept.

Considering that they have about two years to get all the information that they needed and to strategize a plan of attack, what we saw was a bunch of clowns asking inappropriate, off tangent and bridge to nowhere questions (on a side note, I would like to take credit for being the first person to use the term "bridge to nowhere" when describing a question that does not lead to anything). Let's examine some of hem.

Jinggoy Estrada - Estrada berated Joc Joc for having a bunch of people behind him, some of whom were his counsels. According to Estrada, "Kahit 20 o 50 pa na abogado ang dalhin mo, mahuhuli ka rin kung nagsisinungaling ka." This is true, by the way, and he should know. His father, Ex-President Erap Estrada had the top litigator in the country in Estelito Mendoza and Former Chief Justice Andres Narvasa in his dream team and still lost, both in the eyes of the public and in court.

Mar Roxas - Senator Roxas, a leading presidential candidate, began by questioning Bolante on his qualifications as to his position. Roxas was insinuating that Bolante got his position, undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture, because he had connections in the Palace. This is one of those "bridge to nowhere" questions. We all know that the President has prerogative as to who she will appoint in the cabinet and whoever he is, so long as he is qualified for the job, cannot be questioned. Are we supposed to believe that the President will appoint someone that he or she does not know when the position is rife of his trust and confidence? Yes, he is connected but such a situation is permissible in light of the sensitivity of the position.

Can we please stop this argument that a person got taken out of his appointive position because the one replacing him is well-connected? In the first place, the outgoing person also got his position because he is well-connected so he really should not be allowed to complain if he is replaced for similar reasons. Hope you're reading, Dean Pangalangan.

Roxas had another trick up his sleeve, asking Bolante something like "When did the President approve the use of this fund for her election campaign?" It was a loaded question and it could have been tricky if only Bolante was a 6 year old boy and could not therefore see the trap. But Bolante is not a 6 year old boy and calmly sidestepped the question which also gave him the opportunity to give a statement exculpating GMA on everything.

The other senators are grossly incapable of coming up with good questions that would really reveal anything of substance. Some of our best senators preferred to take the emotional route, feigning surprise or showcasing over the top anger at some of Bolante's statements. What is really surprising is that after all the wait, they were unable to extract anything. What is really infuriating is how these Senators would simply dismiss that Bolante is Lying despite the fact that they couldn't squeeze anything out of the guy. Instead they wound up showing to the people that Bolante is smarter than them and herein lies the problem of the Philippine Senate.

The people in the appointive position are mostly qualified for their jobs while several of our lawmakers are in over their heads. When the two meet, like in a Senate hearing, our lawmakers find themselves outgunned, outmaneuvered and outplayed by their less illustrious public servants.

We ask the Senate for help yet what we get is a bunch of clowns acting cardboard cut characters.

There's the Vengeful Son who will do anything to destroy his father's conqueror (Jinggoy).

There's the Irritable Veteran who believes that she's smarter than everyone else and felt that she's been cheated all her life of things that she believes she deserves (Miriam).

There's the Ambitious Hotshot with the admirable lineage who wants to earn his stripes by using bookish methods in the battlefield (Roxas).

There's the Crusading Cop intent on throwing bombs in the hopes that it will bring down his enemies as well as cover up his own dirty laundry.

There's the New Kid on the Block who talks so smooth that it covers the sometimes lack of substance in his arguments. (Escudero)

We need for our Senators to perform better than they have and if they cannot then we need better people altogether. It's maddening to watch the Senate hearing because it looks like we gave all our weapons to people who cannot shoot a sitting duck. We waited two years for this and it looks like the duck is winning the fight. They cannot catch him so they'll say to the reporters "He is obviously lying" or that he is "Unbelievable" just so they can cover up their inability. It's like they're saying: Basta obvious!

Former Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr. said that Bolante may have been able to prepare for the questions because of the two weeks he stayed in St. Luke's. Let's say he did prepare for two weeks. Still, that is not an excuse for the Senate's failure being that there are about two dozen of them with all their staff and had TWO YEARS to prepare for this hearing.

If any of you do not believe how inept our Senate has been, here's a statement from one of our Senators as to how the hearing went: "We are still hoping that he will have a change of heart."

Read that again. And again. Our Senate is now relying on a "change of heart" to extract information. If this was a murder case, it would be tantamount to the prosecution hoping that the accused will confess to the crime because they cannot prove it by themselves.

Senator Jinggoy is correct. No matter how many lawyers you have, you will get caught if you lie. That is of course, IF you have competent people trying to catch you.

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