Joker Arroyo’s rejoinder
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-06-26
Sen. Joker Arroyo requested for equal space to express his side over the Chair Wrecker’s June 17 (“Joker Arroyo must be in agony”) commentary. It is in keeping with STAR tradition that we now allot this space for Joker’s rejoinder.

Good manners, not nationalism is the issue
By Sen. Joker Arroyo

My friend Billy Esposo’s column about me, June 17th, is a sad combination of agonized syllogism and tortured conclusions.

The issue concerning the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce (JFCC) has nothing to do with nationalism at all as Billy postulates; it is a simple question of good manners.

If the Chambers of Commerce of the British, or French, or German, or Japanese, or Canadian and others in Washington, D.C., do not like a legislation pending in the US Congress and would want to defeat it because it would be prejudicial to their interests, would they dare write President Bush to scuttle it? No, they would lobby with the US Congress to kill it — a perfectly acceptable procedure.

The JFCC does not like the EPIRA amended because it would affect, among others, the excessive profits of their power generation investments in the country. Instead of lobbying in Congress where amendatory bills are pending, they complained to the President not to touch it – something they cannot do in other countries, and something they won’t allow to happen in their respective countries. The move smacked of overweening arrogance and impertinence.

The Senate with becoming alacrity adopted unanimously the resolution calling for an inquiry on the JFCC actuations and necessarily, to put the President on notice that that is not her turf and therefore, to stay away from it. Opposition senators tripped over each other to second it. By his silence, Billy gave his assent to the conduct of the JFCC.

The hearing was televised for all to see. I wasn’t rough. That Billy thinks otherwise betrays a common failing of less assiduous, swivel-chair analysts. They do not bother to see what can be easily seen but opt for unreliable second-hand opinion.

How could I, Billy asks, side with Senator Enrile whom I steadfastly fought in the past? Because in this overriding electricity controversy, which unduly burdens the consumers, he happens to be right. It is as simple as that.

The committee report on the ZTE hearings is long overdue. It has, in fact, grown stale. My vote on the various issues and the reasons therefore will become public only when and if the report is released, not before. But what I found disturbing, during the hearings, was the constant threat of contempt foisted on the witnesses whenever their answers did not please the interrogator and the incessant threats of arrest for non-cooperation. I could not go for that.

In the JFCC hearing, Senator Santiago did not threaten any foreign attendee with contempt or arrest even if they dubiously refused to answer simple and straightforward questions.

The mind of the nation has become somewhat foggy because of too much inconstancy. And so, Billy made much of what he calls my being “chummy” with Enrile. The phantoms exist only in his mind. Confronted with an issue, Billy would like it decided not on its merits, but on the basis of who is for it and who is against it — a subjective, not objective vote.

During the martial law years, visiting American ‘firemen’ questioned the legal opposition for finding common cause with the CPP-NPA, unbelievers they said of democracy and civil liberties, in the unrelenting move to oust Marcos. The great guns of the opposition, Senators Lorenzo Tañada, Ninoy, Diokno, Salonga, Gerry Roxas, Soc Rodrigo, Ambrosio Padilla and others retorted — didn’t Roosevelt and Churchill ally themselves with Stalin to defeat Hitler in World War II?

Thereafter, the old man Tañada and myself became baptismal sponsors to the son of then incarcerated Joma and Juliet Sison, with Cardinal Sin officiating.

On martial law and Meralco. Sen. Enrile faults me for giving Meralco back to the Lopezes on a silver platter during Cory’s time. Some quarters even claim that the Lopezes had been paid for their Meralco shares during the martial law years. I maintain otherwise.

Geny Lopez, eldest son of the Meralco patriarch, Don Eugenio Lopez Sr. was thrown into a military stockade with Serge Osmeña III to answer for the trumped-up charge that their fathers tried to assassinate President Marcos. Meralco was sequestered and remained sequestered until EDSA. The older Lopez died in exile abroad without seeing Geny Jr. freed. Under such circumstances, the transaction thereon was carried out under duress. The Aquino administration took it upon itself to correct this egregious injustice. (End of Joker’s rejoinder)

Joker’s rejoinder is published sans any editing and in the very space where my column appeared.

I must remind Joker though that shielding Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) during the ZTE Hearings is the core issue and not just being on the same side with Juan Ponce-Enrile.

Joker talks about inconstancy. Where does Joker really stand when the country is ruled by an undemocratic and corrupt regime? Where does Joker get off fighting Marcos then and protecting a Marcos wannabe like GMA now?

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A great disservice to P-Noy

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