Villar's two chances to get a fair Senate hearing: none and nil
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-05-14

During the 1975 Ali-Frazier III (‘The thrilla in Manila’) press conference, Muhammad Ali was asked: “How much chance does Joe Frazier have to beat you?”

The loquacious all-time boxing legend replied: “Frazier has two chances — none and nil.”

This came to mind as we follow the so-called ethics case against Senator Manny Villar (by no coincidence the leading Opposition presidential wannabe) being promoted by the ‘Katzenjammer Kids’ of the Upper Chamber, Senators Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Jamby Madrigal.

For those who are unfamiliar with the old comics strip characters called the Katzenjammer Kids, these were twins who focused their energies in pestering with incessant mischief The Captain, one of the comic strip characters. Created by Rudoph Dirks, the Katzenjammer Kids first appeared in December 1897.

Your Chair Wrecker does not recall any of our colleagues in the STAR Opinion section giving this Madrigal-authored ethics case against Villar any credence. Boo Chanco of our Business section had the right words for it — the Senate has better things to do.

It is easy to see that this is all about political theatre, a brazen attempt to demolish the leading Opposition presidential wannabe. Unethical means — disguised as an ethics case — are employed in order to destroy a leading 2010 presidential candidate.

Our position on this issue has nothing to do with being pro-Villar but has everything to do with calling to task the unethical tactics being employed by the proponents of this ethics case. Your Chair Wrecker’s May 7 column (“Are we ready to have good leaders?”) expresses your Chair Wrecker’s top choice among the presidential wannabes, Sen. Dick Gordon, and the reasons why.

Psychologically, Filipinos have long been on civil war mode — merely needing a flash point to graduate into an outright shooting war. Over 60 percent of Filipinos are strongly against the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime and there is a big segment of the military that shares this antagonism. With about 40 percent of Filipinos living below the poverty line and many more losing their jobs, we are the ideal setting for the perfect political storm.

What we need in 2010 is a political exercise that will eliminate the rancor and the cynicism and this can only be promoted by a POSITIVE campaign where contenders will vie for the people’s vote on the basis of program and qualifications. Let the best candidate win on the basis of what he/she can do to move the country forward and not what he/she can do to merely destroy the other rivals.

Dirty politics merely adds to the dangerous animosity that now dominates the Philippine political landscape. We have to expose and weed out those who promote toxic politics in the same way that we attempt to vomit any poison that gets into our system.

Lacson failed to prove his case of alleged double insertion for the C-5 road extension when this was heard in the Finance Committee, then chaired by Sen. Juan Ponce-Enrile. After delivering the Senate to the Administration minority and putting Enrile at the Senate helm, Lacson grabbed the Ethics Committee and shifts to an ethics case against Villar.

Lacson rabidly pursues this non-issue despite the fact that it was his ratings that remained stagnant while Villar’s ratings continued to remain high. Understandably, Sen. Nene Pimentel called for the weeding out of Trojan Horses from the Opposition ranks.

This ethics case is as weak, if not weaker, than the original double insertion allegation. Here, a ‘dark motive’ is imputed on sheer circumstances where Villar’s properties happen to be located where the C-5 extension will pass.

The only reason this is being pursued, as if this was the Senate’s top priority, is because those pressing this case know that they have the numbers. A review of the roster of the Senate as a whole will tell you that personal and partisan interests will work heavily against the accused no matter how clear his innocence is presented.

Villar called the Lacson-chaired Ethics Committee a ‘kangaroo court’ and the Senate as a whole as a bigger ‘kangaroo court’ after realizing that he cannot expect a fair hearing from both. The mere fact that it was Lacson who proposed to convene the Senate as a whole suggests that he feels assured that he will get his dubious objective accomplished in that forum.

How can Villar feel comfortable being judged by easily five other fellow presidential wannabes — Senators Mar Roxas, Loren Legarda, Chiz Escudero, Ping Lacson and Dick Gordon? They all cooperated to oust him as Senate President. Why won’t he now feel that they will again cooperate to destroy his candidacy?

How can Villar feel comfortable being judged by the Senate allies of GMA when it enhances the GMA regime’s chances to win in 2010 if the leading Opposition presidential candidate is undermined? When have we seen GMA’s allies rise above partisan politics and side with what is right and moral?

In a court of law, a judge will inhibit from trying a case if the slightest hint of a conflict of interest or a suspicion of personal bias manifests. In the case of Villar, the conflict of interest and personal bias scream at you!

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