What is Lacson’s real agenda?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-10-02

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson’s “Road to Nowhere” expose against Senate President Manuel “Manny” Villar simply led to nowhere.

In the Senate Finance Committee hearing last Monday that was chaired by Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile, it was concluded that there was no anomaly in the so-called double insertion. While Senate President Villar did request for it, Enrile said that such requests were normal.

“There is no iota of evidence presented that there is an intent to defraud the government. You cannot commit a crime without any intention unless it is a statutory crime (just the commission of the act even without the intention is already a crime). But estafa, malversation, misuse of funds ‑ intent is always necessary,” Enrile was quoted in a post-hearing interview.

Enrile also said: “The committee does not fish for evidence. You make an allegation, you have to prove it. He who alleges has the burden of proof. So far there is none as far as the chair is concerned.”

Both Senate Minority Floor Leader, Senator Nene Pimentel, and UP Professor Ben Diokno, a former Budget Secretary who was invited to the hearing as a resource person, agreed that Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) is the likely beneficiary in the event that there was indeed a double funding for the same work on the C-5 Road extension.

“In the case of a double entry, it may not necessarily be the senator or the congressman concerned who might benefit from that but unconsciously or unwittingly, you might say, we are providing the Office of the President with more leeway to fund whatever projects come to her mind regarding a particular appropriation measure that is supposedly impounded,” Pimentel said.

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya explained that if indeed there was a double insertion for the same work, which could have been a mere clerical honest mistake, this is easily corrected in the Preparation of Work stage of the system. Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane also ruled out the possibility of a double funding on the same work.

I have to agree with Senator Joker Arroyo when he said that it is Senator Panfilo Lacson — and Senator Jamby Madrigal, if I may add — who must be held accountable if the “Road to Nowhere” double insertion proves to be a false charge.

The charge was not proved. Rather shameless and thick faced, if I may comment, the demolition partners have shifted gear and are now pushing for an Ethics Committee hearing on an alleged Villar conflict of interest.

The use of government home financing monies for the purchase of Villar subdivision homes was cited. This is another non-issue simply because this was a transaction between the borrower (a member of the government home financing institution who wants to buy a house and lot) and the government home financing institution (who has an obligation to fund the borrower-member).

The demolition partners now also claim that Villar subdivisions profited immensely from the C-5 Road extension. I seriously doubt if anyone with enough intelligence will buy the suggestion that the C-5 Road extension was conceived to enrich Manny Villar.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago rejected Lacson’s call to bring the issue before the Ethics Committee. She said: “I respectfully disagree that this is a proper matter for the jurisdiction of the Ethics Committee because our Senate rules provide that Ethics Committee exercises jurisdiction only if the language or behavior is so-called unparliamentary, that is to say that the behavior in this case is offensive to a senator or derogates the Senate as an institution.”

Really, if there is to be a case in the Senate Ethics Committee it should focus on Lacson and Madrigal who must now account for the tarnished image of the Senate and the unfounded savaging of a Senate President.

Considering the flak that he has earned from discerning members of media who saw through his “Road to Nowhere” expose, one wonders why Lacson still pursues the misadventure. Is he suicidal? Does he harbor a political death wish?

I don’t recall any STAR news or opinion writer who gave credence to Lacson’s expose. The Inquirer ran an editorial and an editorial cartoon (the day after) over the weekend that doubted Lacson’s charges. The Tribune, which makes no bones about being sympathetic to the Opposition, has been very critical of Lacson. One would conclude that this is demolishing Lacson and not his intended target.

If he is not benefiting from this, then why does Lacson continue to do it? Is this a case of sheer madness or a case of method to madness (to borrow the phrase from Will Shakespeare)? What may appear to be madness may have a deeper political agenda at play after all.

It was Tribune publisher Ninez Cacho-Olivarez who got me thinking about what could be Lacson’s real agenda. Ninez wrote in her September 19 column: “Unfortunately for Lacson, he is generally seen as an opposition spoiler, which is why his move to destroy Villar is seen as a political move. Still, the general public can’t be blamed too much for having this perception of Lacson, since he proved to be a spoiler in the 2004 presidential polls.”

Lacson should level with the nation — is he with the Opposition or now working for the administration? Only a united Opposition can hope to win in 2010 and yet Lacson splintered the Opposition even before 2009.

Is it true that Lacson was instrumental in paving the way in the Committee on Appointments for the confirmation of DoJ’s Raul Gonzalez and DILG’s Herr Ronnie Puno? Why is Lacson belaboring a C-5 Road extension non-issue and distracting investigations on real issues like the GSIS exposure to the US fund managers’ bankruptcies, the Mindanao War, the plot to revive Charter change and the new agriculture scam?

Realizing that he has neither a national political party nor impressive public ratings to be elected president — what if Lacson is now working for the administration?

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