When 'the 3 stooges' conduct a Senate hearing
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-06-02

Larry, Moe and Curly Joe, or better known as The 3 Stooges, were among the favorite comedians of Baby Boomers like your Chair Wrecker. The term LOL (laughing out loud) was not yet in vogue during our pre-teen years but that is what we did every time we watched The 3 Stooges on television.

When The 3 Stooges portrayed car mechanics and were attempting to simply replace a defective car part, they would end up destroying the entire vehicle. When The 3 Stooges portrayed party caterers, the hostess and her guests would end up throwing pies at each other’s faces.

Watching last Thursday’s Senate hearing on the Dr. Hayden Kho sex videos scandal, The 3 Stooges flashed in your Chair Wrecker’s mind. Larry, Moe and Curly Joe suddenly seemed to have resurrected as Jinggoy, Jamby and Curly Bong — the three Senators, Jinggoy Estrada, Jamby Madrigal and Bong Revilla, who were conducting the hearing.

The Professional Heckler, Loi Reyes Landicho, comically compared Senator Jamby Madrigal with a palengkera (wet market vendor) in one installment of his website postings of celebrity and political jokes. The comparison stemmed from Madrigal’s distasteful verbal treatment of Senate hearing resource persons which have reaped severe criticism from media commentators and editorials. Last Thursday, Madrigal did not talk like a palengkera but instead - she brought the palengke (wet market) to the Senate.

To begin with, that hearing was unnecessary and no less than Madrigal’s fellow Senators Miriam Santiago and Alan Peter Cayetano confirmed that. There is already a prepared bill, ready for Senate deliberation, which will provide the needed measures to curb future sex video scandals and crimes on cyberspace.

There is nothing the hearing could have accomplished in aid of legislation because the legislation is there already. Other than that, the scandal was best left for the justice system to investigate and prosecute, if merited.

Indeed, the hearing accomplished nothing and only further eroded the image of the Senate. Not content with the scandalous hearing they held - Madrigal even had the gall to announce that she is planning a second session.

Senators Madrigal and Revilla are due for re-election in 2010. Considering that both of them have not really done anything remarkable during their current term, a national attention grabbing media circus could have been too tempting to pass off.

Nothing in last Thursday’s hearing was about Senate business. Everything reeked of cheap show business striptease and melodrama. Nothing in last Thursday’s hearing contributed to the people’s intellectual development and information level. Instead it pandered to people’s baser instincts and supplied what voyeurs and scandal seekers crave to watch.

Considering the subject matter, the prudent mode for conducting the hearing would have been to hold an executive session. In fact, that was requested by one of the parties — Dr. Hayden Kho. How else can we explain the folly of making a public hearing out of such a delicate subject matter except that it was intended to provide Senators who are up for re-election their desperately needed national attention?

Much as we all abhor Dr. Hayden Kho’s ‘kiss and tape’ methods, there is no tolerating either ex-cop Abner Afuang’s dousing water on the head of the now notorious Lothario. If Kho deserves to be meted a prison sentence, let a proper court process that in a fair trial — not a media circus held in the Senate.

Afuang assaulted and violated the rights of another person who has not even been convicted. Even if Kho had already been tried and convicted, Afuang was neither the authorized punisher nor was his method allowed by the Penal Code. Afuang also committed an act of disrespect to a national institution — the Senate — and disturbed its proceedings.

But are we really surprised that the Afuang incident happened? We knew that the hearing was going to be a showbiz circus so it should not surprise Madrigal that somebody will volunteer to play the role of a clown.

Senator Revilla’s reaction to the water dousing incident can be considered shallow and rather insensitive. Revilla, who was determined from day 1 to nail Kho, said the incident looked like it was scripted. Media reported that Revilla later ate his words upon learning that Afuang really detested Kho.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada tried to bully lawyer Lorna Kapunan regarding her client’s request for an executive session. Somebody ought to remind the Senator from San Juan that he is a public servant and not a royal member of an anachronistic monarchy. A public servant does not talk that way to a taxpayer.

Somebody ought to teach Senator Estrada that a lone Senator does not carry the power of the Senate as an institution. And even if he had that power, a good education and proper breeding will dictate that he should behave like a gentleman.

The Senators we have today when compared to the illustrious Senators we had before martial law dramatize the sad reality of the downward spiral of our country.

Compare the likes of past Senators Ninoy Aquino, Ferdinand Marcos, Raul Manglapus, Arturo Tolentino, Maneng Pelaez, Pepe Diokno, Lorenzo Sumulong, Claro M. Recto, Lorenzo Tanada, Jovy Salonga with the deadweights we have today in the Senate and your Filipino heart will bleed.

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