Damaged institution

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By Benjie R. Pangan

At Close Range

Sunday, April 27, 2014

FOR THE PAST several years, the Senate of the Philippines has been a revered body, an august one, and its members are looked upon as beyond reproach and paragons of probity.

Gone are the days of the likes of Jovito Salonga and Jose W. Diokno, both of whom gave the chamber fire and essence in their speeches and have sponsored bills of good import and impact.

Then, the Senate is the central place to ventilate relevant issues, concerns of national significance and consequence and sponsorship debates are an event to witness and cheer upon as the honorable members try to outwit one another in substance and eloquence.


Nowadays, that institution has lesser public acceptance as it weaves through inconsequential issues and worse, gets embroiled in one controversy after another, the latest being the ignominous PDAF.

This plague, the Priority Development Assistance Fund, is on both houses, and it involved the high and the mighty in the Senate, men hitherto untainted by controversy but now are mired in liberty-threatening situations.

The mastermind of the whole scam, a mediocre businesswoman named Janet Lim Napoles, proved to be smarter than the others and managed to destroy the high and the mighty with her promise of chunks of money.

Now the rude awakening on three Senators initially tagged by the authorities as participants in the scam: Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr., and Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada. The weight of evidence should bear down on the trio. It is the force of the prosecution (the onus): the Ombudsman/Sandiganbayan, DOJ and NBI against the collective force of the trio and others subsequently tagged as collaborators that would be tested.

The latest report or reports carry the names of not only the three, but also reportedly 12, enough, as they say, to constitute a quorum. If indicted, the constitutional mayhem may arise and so many people, including honorable congressmen would be dragged into the turmoil. What would happen now to the once-sedate Upper House? to the Lower House?

The trial, if ever it gets off the ground, would surely drag for several years, if not decades, like the infamous Maguindanao massacre which is running for more than four years with no end in sight. With so many motions, delays, postponements and other dilatory tactics to be employed by lawyers of the opposing sides, the trial of the century may yet take a lifetime to finish. Meantime, perish the thought of ever recovering the
P10 billion in people's money stolen by the crafty Janet Napoles and her vicious cohorts!

* * *

Today, a barangay day assembly will be held at Barangay Tabun spearheaded by Peso Mabalacat and attended by Mayor Boking Morales. It is backstopped by the multi-alliance sector, the Phi Beta Rho fraternity and the usual cooperative local employers.

The venue will be at Santos Ventura National High School and will feature a medical mission and a job fair for local employment.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on April 28, 2014.


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