Toby Tiangco's hair made more impact than his testimony
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-03-15
It’s a “bad hair” week for several prominent people.

The Sandiganbayan (Graft Court) issued a warrant of arrest for former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo last Tuesday for his alleged role in the ZTE-NBN Broadband Deal overprice scandal. Also ordered arrested were former Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza, former Comelec Chairman Ben Abalos and former President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

In the impeachment trial, lead defense lawyer, former Justice Serafin Cuevas, also had a “bad hair” week when one of his planned aces — questions on the verification and lack of due process of the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice (CJ) Renato Corona — was rejected by the impeachment tribunal. Even seemingly friendly Senator-Judges like Senator-Judges Joker Arroyo and Miriam Santiago pressed Cuevas to cease questioning the impeachment complaint. 

Some legal eagles believe that Cuevas could be preparing the ground for elevating these validity questions to the SC, which is why the defense is still trying to ride what is already a disqualified horse.

Professor Rowena Daroy-Morales, the legal resource person of GMA Network NewsTV, had noted last Monday that what the impeachment court had already directly rejected — questions on the validity of the impeachment complaint, citing lack of due process and proper verification — the defense lawyers tried to present indirectly. The testimony of Representative Toby Tiangco became the defense team’s mode for discussing the case validity issues that were already rejected by the impeachment court.

The impeachment court’s ruling had established four very important points that will henceforth guide future impeachment cases and these are, as follows:

1. The House of Representatives has the sole exclusive right and responsibility to initiate an impeachment complaint.

2. It is the Senate sitting as an impeachment court that has the sole and exclusive right to try the impeachment case.

3. When at least one-third of the Representatives have already signed an impeachment complaint — then that is already deemed valid for immediate elevation to the Senate for trial.
4. The Senate cannot interfere with the House of Representatives when the latter is preparing an impeachment complaint just as the House of Representatives cannot interfere with the Senate on how they will try the House-initiated impeachment complaint.

By establishing these parameters, the impeachment court effectively threw out the defense team’s attempt to question the impeachment case against SC Chief Justice Renato Corona where they cited as grounds lack of due process and proper verification. However, when the impeachment court allowed Rep. Tiangco to testify — that allowed the defense to discuss some of their issues.

Rep. Tiangco’s testimony may be summed up as follows:

1. That the Office of the President used the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund aka pork barrel) as leverage to secure support for the CJ’s impeachment.

2. That he was penalized with delays in the release of his PDAF as a result of his not signing the impeachment complaint in 2010 against then Ombudsman, Merci Gutierrez.

3. That the Representatives were not really allowed sufficient time to examine the impeachment complaint although he admitted that they had a PowerPoint presentation of the Articles of Impeachment.

Budget Secretary Butch Abad immediately debunked Tiangco’s assertions, saying: “Rep. Tiangco miserably fails in his attempt to establish that we have a policy of withholding the PDAF releases of solons who voted against the two impeachment complaints. On the contrary, the PDAF of legislators who voted against these impeachment complaints were released in 2011.”

In one of his better appearances on the floor, Senator-Judge Jinggoy Estrada cited the defense for wasting everybody’s time over something that had already been settled and had no relevance. Sen. Estrada correctly pressed the urgent need for the defense team to answer the questions on the CJ’s SALN (Statements on Assets, Liabilities and Net worth).

Judging from Facebook comments on the testimony of Rep. Tiangco, it would appear that the defense failed to present its case for a defective impeachment complaint. Dennis Garcia, of Hotdog fame, a communications expert, noted that Rep. Tiangco made a very poor resource person for the defense — even if only on the basis of non-verbal aspects of communications. Dennis felt that Tiangco lost a lot of sympathy because he was “cocky and projected a spoiled brat demeanor.” In his Chubibo column, Dennis made a satire of Toby’s hairstyle, showing how it would look on Senator-Judge Joker Arroyo, Justice Serafin Cuevas and Presiding Officer Juan Ponce Enrile (JPE).

Respected veteran journalist Philip Lustre made this observation on Facebook: “I thought this guy (Rep. Tiangco) is a principled lawmaker. He was protesting because his PDAF was not given to him immediately. In short, he is a cry baby.”

Majority of the friends of Dennis Garcia and Philip Lustre on Facebook agreed with their remarks about the defense team’s dud of a first witness and roundly cheered Garcia’s satirical renditions of Tiangco’s hairstyle. Satire has been an effective political tool, often said to make people laugh first before making them think.

Filipinos have a special affection for political satire, which is consistent with the traditional appeal of comedy. Comedy allows the masses to laugh at their so-called elite. Charlie Chaplin’s comedies were classic renditions of the masses having a big laugh at the expense of the elite.

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must never unwatched go.”

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

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A great disservice to P-Noy

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