Having half a brain and too much tongue can be politically fatal
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-10-09
Having half a brain and too much tongue — that is how I can best describe the impression left on me by Sen. Jamby Madrigal last week. How can a supposedly responsible Senator of the land cast aspersions on the Chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and the Senate President on the mere strength of a text message?

Sen. Jamby Madrigal accused Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and Senate President Manuel Villar of allowing themselves to be influenced — meaning, bribed — by a rich Castilian businessman into canceling the ZTE hearings. The rich Castilian businessman was understood to be Ricky Razon who has been named in the ZTE scandal.

As if on cue, another presidential wannabe, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, joined the Madrigal song and dance number. The Madrigal and Lacson duet is backed with a chorus from the Black and White Movement. The movement posted a position paper titled "Cop out or sellout" which follows the beat of the Madrigal tune.

Madrigal's only proof for her allegation was a text message that she had received purporting that sellout. I had also received that text message. But I did one better — I forwarded it to Alan Peter Cayetano who lost no time getting back to me to explain his position.

Madrigal quickly fell for the unverified information and concluded that the hearings on the ZTE deal were postponed to diffuse the strong momentum of public outrage drawn from the three previous ZTE Senate hearings. She further said that postponing the hearings until after the Senate recess is meant to dampen public interest and bring about a cancellation of the inquiry altogether.

She could be believed if the Chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee did not have solid reasons for the postponement or if Madrigal had solid proof to offer other than a text message, by now a familiar tool for political demolition. Any average thinking person would have immediately become suspicious of such a malicious text message.

The right and decent thing for Madrigal to do was to check with Senators Cayetano and Villar instead of grandstanding in media. Unless, of course, grandstanding was her objective in the first place. It is no coincidence that she and Lacson were frothing in the mouth when their scheme to oust Manny Villar as Senate President backfired and they both ended up in the minority with no substantial committee chairmanship.

When Alan Peter Cayetano called me to explain the turn of events that led to the postponement, I found the reasons to be valid and to be the better decision to make under the circumstances. Cayetano revealed:

1. There were no new witnesses or resource persons available. First Gentleman Mike Arroyo was to be invited but it was unlikely that he will attend.

2. Those who will end up being invited to attend a pre-recess hearing will be the very persons who were already grilled for over 11 hours. They had nothing new to say and further grilling them will add to the image being propagated that the Senate merely holds these hearings in aid of media promotion.

3. It was decided that rather than hold a boring hearing before the Senate goes into recess, it is infinitely better to schedule a later hearing where public interest will be kept at fever pitch. A boring hearing before the Senate recess will precisely lead to the death of the ZTE investigation.

Both Majority and Minority Floor Leaders, Senators Kiko Pangilinan and Nene Pimentel, supported the postponement as did Committee Chairmen Senators Mar Roxas and Pong Biazon. So what's the big fuss?

The otherwise more respectable and responsible Black and White Movement leaders made a fool of themselves by acting on Madrigal's reckless antics that were founded on a forwarded text message.

A person offering to emancipate this nation from the darkness of the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo era cannot claim to be credible with a track record of gullibility to text messages.

Their hasty use of a text message in order to malign the motives of the Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman and Senate President makes me wonder if Senators Madrigal and Lacson had been the very authors of these text messages. Although undeserved, this conclusion is perhaps much kinder to them and would spare them the ignominy of being regarded as stupid and irresponsible.

Madrigal even had the gall to suggest that an ethics case ought to be filed against Cayetano and Villar with nothing but a text message as basis.

I take a special issue over this development not because I am particularly concerned with the political careers of Senators Cayetano and Villar. Both of them are more than capable of protecting themselves from such shallow broadsides.

But the thought that Madrigal and Lacson, who are both salivating to become president, may actually find their way to Malacañang — now that is a tragic event that every Filipino must prevent from ever happening.

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A great disservice to P-Noy

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