The refusal of the House and the Senate to investigate the alleged misuse of their pork barrel is a clear admission (or, is “confession” a more appropriate term?) that they’re incapable of making an objective inquiry and findings. This being the case, what then should we make of their past inquiries? There can be no other possible conclusion—their findings and recommendations were colored by their personal prejudices or biases.
Senate President Franklin M. Drilon (FMD) and Speaker Sonny “Serbisyong Bayan” Belmonte (SB) both made the decision despite the filing of resolutions in their respective chambers calling for an inquiry into the alleged use of bogus non-government organizations as conduits of pork barrel. With that peremptory judgment, they ran roughshod over the committee system, a bedrock of the legislative process. They should have allowed the standing committees to which the resolutions were referred to make the decision. Unfortunately, they didn’t. But more than running roughshod over the committee system, they missed the opportunity to clean up the messy use of pork. Perhaps, their idea of clean-up is sweeping the issue under the rug.
The speed with which the resolutions were thrown to the wastebasket makes me wonder if the House and Senate leaders had read the measures at all. On second thought, I shouldn’t have wondered. After all, the House has many speed readers. Remember the approval within minutes of the voluminous Articles of Impeachment against then Chief Justice Renato Corona?
That reminds me, President BS Aquino and his followers have been claiming that the ouster of Corona proved the no-nonsense drive of the administration against graft and corruption. If that’s so, why is graft and corruption still very prevalent? Most of the lawmakers who prosecuted or tried him have not even made public their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth, the main issue involved in Corona’s impeachment and conviction. Now, their treatment of the “pork” inquiry like a hot potato. No-nonsense? Nonsensical is more like it.
Both FMD (Franklin Magtunao Drilon, not Foot and Mouth Disease) and SB justified their hands-off policy with the ongoing investigation of the same issue by the National Bureau of Investigation. This reason just does not wash. The House and the Senate had been conducting inquiries on issues that were being investigated by the NBI, or the National Police Commission or the Ombudsman. The existence of a court case hasn’t deterred senators and congressmen either from pursuing an inquiry. In a number of cases, senators even threatened to cite in contempt resource persons or witnesses who refused to testify because the issue was sub judice. They contended that their inquiry was in aid of legislation and was different from that being conducted by the NBI, the Napolcom or the Ombudsman. So, why the about-face? Is it because any inquiry might open a can of worms?
The proposed inquiry was meant to find reform measures to prevent misuse of the pork barrel, assuming that such is still possible. Now, if some legislators would become collateral victims in this quest for reforms, then so be it. Come to think of it, haven’t the Senate constituted itself into a committee of the whole to investigate then Senate President Manny Villar for the alleged double entry in the budget on the construction of C-5? The Senate had no hesitation in preparing a noose to hang around Villar’s neck. Why is it wavering now? Is it because inquiries are primarily directed only at enemies of the administration of BS Aquino?
Rave and rant
I’ve mixed emotions on the runner-up finish of the Philippine team in the recently concluded regional tournament of the International Basketball Federation, more popularly known as FIBA by its French name. I feel proud because the strong finish qualified the Philippines for the FIBA Basketball World Cup to be held in Madrid, Spain next year. On the other hand, I fear that this achievement would provide greater popularity and sponsorship for basketball to the detriment of sports where height is not might.
Last Monday, Sen. Pia Cayetano, a tri-athlete and former UP varsity volleyball player, said that Filipinos could excel in sports like boxing, football, baseball, swimming, triathlon, gymnastics, cycling or archery that don’t require height. She lamented that these sports where Filipino athletes could be competitive were not getting sufficient funding or attention.
“We are basketball lovers and that sport is here to stay. But I do believe that it’s high time to support other sports as well where we can also excel,” Senator Pia stressed.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, a basketball player in his younger days, also believed that the Philippines would never become world champions in the sport which requires height “unless we naturalize Lebron James and Kobe Bryant to become Filipino citizens.”