FMD and the strengthening of the Senate

Efren Danao

Efren Danao

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon (FMD) said on Sept. 13 at the Kapihan sa Annabel’s: “Admittedly, this pork barrel scam has affected the Senate and the House. But I find this as an opportunity to enable to strengthen the institution afterwards. Yes, there may be a weakening of the institution, but I am confident we should be able to strengthen our democratic institution afterward.”

Well said, Mr. Senate President. You spoke of a determination, of confidence on strengthening the democratic institution in the aftermath of one of the biggest scandals to ever hit the legislature and even the entire government. Note, I said “well said,” and not “well done.” Ten days after speaking at Annabel’s, FMD abjectly surrendered to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio the decision-making on whether or not the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee headed by Sen. TG Guingona should subpoena Janet Lim Napoles.

This voluntary surrender by FMD of a major element of the Senate’s power of inquiry in aid of legislation was complicated by his statement that he agreed with Guingona that “nobody should undermine the mandate and power of the Blue Ribbon Committee, much less of the entire Senate.” Huh! Nobody should undermine the power of the Blue Ribbon but he would not sign the subpoena requested by Guingona because Ombudsman Carpio said ‘no?’ Now, my head’s on a whirl. The truth is, I’ve never seen a Senate so willing to clip its wings as this one under FMD. Oh well, he can’t be FMD for nothing! I reiterate, FMD stands for Franklin Magtunao Drilon. That he has the same initials as the dreaded Foot and Mouth Disease is merely coincidental, although I’ve heard many say that this has actually afflicted many politicians.

I don’t see FMD (again, it’s Franklin M. Drilon) putting his foot on his mouth on the rejection of a subpoena for Napoles. He will swear to the supremacy of the rule of law over the power of the Senate. He can say her appearance before the Blue Ribbon could undermine her prosecution by the Ombudsman. He can cite hundreds of reasons why the Blue Ribbon can’t hear the testimony of Napoles. However, I don’t expect him to ever say that his refusal to sign the subpoena was meant to prevent Napoles from telling the whole truth to the Senate panel.

Napoles might be a nervous wreck right now, what with almost all her friends deserting her and who knows? She might bring down others with her. Why should she suffer alone and let those who had benefitted from her schemes go scot-free? Ano sila, sinusuwerte?

Napoles could have been asked about claims that she helped facilitate the allocation of bigger pork of legislators who had voted for the RH bill and the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona. Until now, I still can’t believe that those who prosecuted and convicted CJ Corona held a higher moral ground. They convicted Corona for failing to file his statements of assets, liabilities and networth, but most of them had refused to reveal their own SALNs. Napoles could have been asked also about the Montblanc pens that she had gifted to some legislators, or about the claims of Benhur Luy on the alleged share of lawmakers from their pork. Worse, she could be asked if she had direct links to Malacanang. I remember an online interview with her daughter Jean who said that President Aquino and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas were like a family to them.

I take my hats off to Senators TG Guingona, Koko Pimentel and Chiz Escudero for insisting that Napoles be summoned by the Senate. I wonder if they could muster enough votes to force FMD (again, it’s not Foot and Mouth Disease) to call a caucus on the issue.

When FMD was elected Senate President on July 21, he vowed: “We must be a sensitive and responsive Senate, a Senate that feels the pulse of the people, a Senate that is tireless in pursuing reforms to propel our beloved country to greater economic, political and social heights.”

With his refusal to sign the subpoena for Napoles to appear before the Blue Ribbon, where’s the Senate that feels the pulse of the people, the Senate that’s tireless in pursuing reforms? I don’t see that Senate under FMD’s leadership.

Butch Abad’s denials on pork

Budget Secretary Butch Abad said his office was not selective in giving documents to the Commission on Audit on the use of pork from 2007 to 2009. He said his office had difficulty getting the needed documents so they had to submit only what’s available. I guess it’s just the bad luck of three senators that only their papers were readily available to the DBM, if I were to believe him.


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