Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona 3rd, chairman of the blue ribbon committee, should stop play-acting and bring to a close the committee investigation into the alleged involvement of senators in the pork barrel scam.
Remember, he gushed at the testimony of Ruby “Tuason” last Thursday, saying it was a buzzer-beating three-pointer that turned out to be the winning shot. I’ve been covering the legislature since 1983 and I have never heard a committee chairman make such an inexcusable (but explicable) statement during an ongoing inquiry. Other chairmen who may have prejudged a case have never blabbered the way Guingona has done.
During the “inquiry” last Thursday, Guingona asked nothing that wasn’t in the affidavit of “Tuason.” He never tried to dig deeper into her written answers and yet, he was filled with admiration for her when she repeated what she had written! Should he now claim objectivity in the inquiry, then he should be a better actor than Sen. Jinggoy Estrada to convince his audience. Ah, but even if he could present a façade of objectivity, his propensity for talking couldn’t mask his impartiality. As far as he’s concerned the “game” was already won with the buzzer-beating three-pointer of “Tuason,” so why should he still call further public hearings? In aid of publicity for his reelection bid in 2016?
I fully commiserate with Senator Jinggoy who said plaintively on the Senate floor last Monday: “I have been demonized in the newspapers; I kept on hogging the headlines almost every day that there is a new whistleblower who’s going to pin me down. xxx.. But you know, I feel so hurt by the parting statements made by the Chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee. xxx.. I think that’s so unfair!”
Well, well, well, Senator Jinggoy isn’t turning out to be a willing martyr. In a virtual “declaration of war” against Guingona, he proclaimed: “If he chooses that battle, I will give him that battle. No problem with me. Magkakasama po tayo rito lahat, pero para husgahan ako na ako ay guilty, hindi po ako papayag diyan. Lalabanan ko po iyan dahil wala po akong kasalanan sa taumbayan.”
Another inexcusable but explicable thing about Guingona’s inquiry is that he simply refuses to look into the involvement of people from Malacañang in the pork barrel scam, specifically those from the Department of Budget and Management and the Commission on Audit. While he acknowledged that the scam couldn’t have happened without the connivance of those from the DBM and COA, he just shrugged at the fact that nobody had testified about such. Huh? That’s it?
Ah, but Guingona has been consistent after all since he became a senator—consistent in acting as a virtual acolyte of the administration. As I have noted in previous columns, he has commented now and then that the scandals of the previous administration were not possible under the Aquino administration with its “tuwid na daan.” So, expect him to stonewall any inquiry into anomalies under the current dispensation, unlike the zeal he exhibited on those under the GMA. He’ll say “amen” without thinking to any pronouncement from Malacañang. If the Palace takes a hands off stand on any anomaly, Guingona will accept this as enough reason not to look into it.
I remember the first sensational case that he ever handled—the alleged corruption in the military and the plea bargaining of military officers with the Ombudsman. In his partial report (normally, committee chairmen give a report only after the inquiry is finished), he said that Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez was guilty of betrayal of the public trust and she should either resign or be impeached.
This partial report was criticized by then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile who asked Guingona to concentrate only on the alleged corruption in the military, the real subject of the inquiry. JPE stressed that the Senate would be placed in an awkward position once it conducted impeachment trial of Gutierrez, who had just been impeached by the House. I still remember Guingona’s reaction to JPE’s advice. He said he had the highest respect for JPE and his wisdom but he also believed in the wisdom of the recommendation of the blue ribbon.
Guingona is not only the first committee chairman to make a report even before he could finish an inquiry. He’s also the first committee chairman to announce (proudly?) that he had submitted a copy of the report to Malacañang. This caused Sen. Tito Sotto to remark: “I’m not aware of any other senator giving Malacañang a copy of a committee report even before the Senate could tackle the same in plenary.”