A model for the Senate inquisitions
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2011-03-03
Senator Frank Drilon’s masterful presentation of documentary evidence and his posing of questions to former AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) Comptroller Jacinto Ligot, during the February 24 Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the AFP corruption scandals, demonstrated that a legislator does not have to be boorish in order to establish an important point. On the contrary, Drilon’s professional manner of conducting his business enhanced the points that he was raising.

Sen. Drilon exposed a highly questionable asset acquisition of Ligot which allegedly used the former AFP Comptroller’s brother in law as a front. Ligot’s wife Erlinda, under whose name the property was listed, sold their P25-million condominium in Taguig to Edgardo Yambao, the said brother in law. Per Sen. Drilon, the sale to Yambao became highly suspicious because the buyer had no traceable income that would explain just how he was able to afford the condo. Other than the Taguig condominium, Yambao was also mentioned as having owned expensive road vehicles.

The AFP former Comptroller once again could not credibly explain the transaction and resorted to his usual shield which is to assert his right not to incriminate himself or to suffer another episode of Alzheimer’s disease. He could not remember a transaction where his signature and that of his wife were clearly displayed on the sale document. While Ligot squirmed with every question that Drilon asked, Drilon’s demeanor never varied — he was cool and impassioned all throughout.

Sen. Drilon spared us the usual grandstanding that we have been wearily accustomed to seeing from lesser Senators. It would appear that the less capable a Senator, the greater the need to grandstand. This is one time when we can appreciate Senator Lito Lapid who never tried to conceal his lackluster performance in the Senate but never resorted to grandstanding in order to make up for it.

Also to be appreciated for the way that they had conducted themselves during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings were Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chair, Sen. TG Guingona. Enrile can be one tough inquisitor but he keeps within the bounds of professional conduct.

In one previous session, Enrile told a resource person: “I will tell you straight to your face — I do not believe you.” That is acceptable and certainly far from the “You do not have a reputation to protect” uncalled for and unjustified remark of Sen. Trillanes to the late Angie Reyes.

Even Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who was among the three Senators — Antonio Trillanes IV and Miriam Santiago, the two others - whom many folks blamed for driving the former AFP Chief Angelo Reyes to take his own life, was now more circumspect. That speaks well for Sen. Estrada. It’s a good sign when a high public official is able to correct his mistakes.

The arrogance of people holding important positions, the arrogance of refusing to admit that they could be wrong or were in fact wrong, is a characteristic that is seen among the Adolf Hitlers of this world. Filipinos should be wary of public officials who display this kind of arrogance. Hitler and his SS murderers were so full of this arrogance. They were so sure that it was their mandate to eliminate those whom they considered as belonging to inferior races.

The members of the Spanish Inquisition were also full of this arrogance. They were so sure of their views of what constituted heresy and what was not considered heresy. Go through the roster of the world’s most detested tyrants and you will see this arrogance we speak of. It is the same arrogance that characterizes Satan in the Bible — the arrogance that presumes to be like God. Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must never unwatched go.”

It’s a boon to mankind that there are media now to expose these dangerous traits in people who have been entrusted with public office. Media must be very discerning when promoting individuals. It’s a fact of life that neurotic personalities tend to be the more interesting and attractive to media. There are more books about the Hitlers of this world than there are about the heroes that fight the Hitlers.

In our Philippine media setting, this gravitation towards showbiz personalities and other celebrities has to be tempered. Media are responsible for the Saints as well as monsters that they promote wittingly or unwittingly. This is what editorial judgment is all about — the care that media editors take to ensure that their consumers benefit in the most positive manner from the information and images transmitted.

Unfortunately, this is not always followed as editorial policy. The demands of market competition have succeeded in the abandonment of better judgment in some media for something that will simply sell. Smut sells but responsible media have no business offering that commodity. Responsible media are characterized by serving their consumers what they need and not simply what they want.

Recently, Freddie Roach was quoted as saying that Manny Pacquiao is destined to become president — or words to that effect. Will this media love affair with Manny Pacquiao, no doubt a top media promoter, allow this to happen?

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

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