Why Senator Ping Lacson should just shut up
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-02-15

That headline is correct. If there is anyone who should shut up and stop commenting on the farcical manner the February 11 Senate hearing (on the World Bank Report on contract rigging) was conducted, it is none other than Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson.

But why, you might ask, should Sen. Lacson shut up and stop commenting on that controversial hearing on the World Bank (WB) Report when he has been the most aggressive Senator in identifying the people behind the alleged contract rigging?

You might also ask: was it not Sen. Lacson who named First Gentleman Mike Arroyo as the alleged central figure in the WB contract rigging? Was it not Sen. Lacson who also dragged other politicians like former Representative Prospero Pichay et al to the WB contract rigging mess?

Well, it is precisely for those reasons why your Chair Wrecker thinks that Sen. Ping Lacson should now stop commenting on this whitewash issue and just shut up. Simply put, Lacson lost the moral high ground to speak out on that farce of a hearing when he left it last Thursday just to attend to another appointment.

Just what “other appointment” could be more important for Sen. Lacson that he has to leave the Senate WB hearing where he was instrumental in identifying the alleged bid manipulators? His Senate job is more important than any other appointment and that includes a possible appointment with a urologist in case he is now showing signs of erectile dysfunction.

Don’t you agree that what Sen. Lacson did is no different from grabbing the basketball during a crucial point of a ball game — then, all of a sudden, hand it over to the opposing team? He took a lead role in pressing for this investigation and just when the accused were gathered, he takes a French leave.

After what he has exposed, after identifying the alleged culprits — Sen. Lacson cannot justify leaving that hearing for another appointment.

That bizarre departure of Sen. Lacson from last Thursday’s hearing raises suspicions because he knows that the new Senate President that he was instrumental in installing — Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile — is a staunch defender of the administration. Lacson also knows that the Committee Chairperson, Sen. Miriam D. Santiago, is another administration defender.

True to form, both Senators Enrile and Santiago managed to maneuver the hearing and make the WB the villain instead of the heroic whistleblower. Did Sen. Lacson expect Senators Enrile and Santiago to perform otherwise? Has Sen. Lacson forgotten how they tried to do the same to the other whistleblowers who testified against the evil regime in previous Senate hearings?

Didn’t the “Top Cop” that Sen. Lacson has been touted to be sense the direction that the hearing will take with the actuations and pronouncements of Senators Enrile and Santiago days before the hearing? Many people, none of them with “Top Cop” credentials, sensed that a whitewash was in the works after Senators Enrile and Santiago extended super leniency to Mike Arroyo, announcing that they will not compel him to appear in the hearing.

A lot of people who expected Lacson to carry the ball and frustrate the administration plot to clear the suspected WB contract riggers were shocked when he left the hearing. Many of them asked this Chair Wrecker for an explanation.

One of them wondered if Sen. Lacson was afraid of being confronted by Prospero Pichay and the others who he linked to the WB contract rigging scandal. Another wondered if Sen. Lacson is already working undercover for the administration — citing surprise why Lacson was also siding with Enrile and Santiago in not compelling Mike Arroyo to attend the hearing.

Another person said that Lacson is under the gun because of the Senator’s pending case in the Supreme Court and that this could be the reason why the “Top Cop” has been playing the administration line. This same person added that Lacson surprisingly sponsored the confirmation in the Commission on Appointments (CA) of controversial Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez who was rejected by the CA in the past.

Sen. Lacson had the gall and the temerity to denounce the Thursday WB hearing — saying that it followed a carefully crafted script. Of course, it was a script. The editors and Op-Ed writers of the STAR agreed that it was a script. So too did many of the editors and writers of the other media.

Santiago’s theatrical antics, Enrile’s issuance of a subpoena to the WB country director, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez’s admission (but only towards the end) that the WB did provide a thick file, the testimony of Mike Arroyo’s doctor that, in effect, the First Gentleman is fit for travel and golf but not to testify or clear his name, the letter of Mike Arroyo that his lawyer Ruy Rondain read — all that reeked of a scripted program that even the three government TV networks (that never covered a Senate hearing before) suddenly aired live.

But didn’t Sen. Lacson play a lead role in that script by leaving the hearing and abrogating his task of pressing the issues? Sen. Lacson could have put Senators Enrile and Santiago in a bind by protesting the attempt to whitewash the case and make the WB the villain.

He could have demanded for more time by saying that he was the only one who was conducting a real investigation. Santiago would have been hard pressed to deny giving Senator Lacson more time to question the accused.

When he left the hearing, didn’t Sen. Lacson provide the wide space and elbow room for the pro-administration Senators to reverse the role of accuser and accused? Didn’t Sen. Lacson’s departure constitute the equivalent of a prosecuting attorney leaving the courtroom to allow the defense lawyer to press the defense arguments unopposed?

Many would be inclined to call that deceit or hypocrisy.

Who committed the greater damage to social order — the murderer or the policeman who knows who committed the murder but covers up for him? The murderer merely ended one life but the crooked cop eroded the very system that protects the lives of members of society.

Who is the bigger promoter of corruption — the plunderer or the duly appointed investigator who conspires to exonerate the grand theft? There will always be a next plunderer but co-opted plunder investigators ensure the incidence of more plunder involving bigger amounts.

Who really ruins democracy — is it the election cheater or the Commission on Elections (Comelec) official who facilitates the election fraud? There will always be election cheaters but conspiring Comelec officials are what cause people to lose faith in elections.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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