We take strong exception to Rigoberto Tiglao’s assessment of the latest Senate hearing on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) in his July 24, 2014 article “A shameless Senate licks Abad’s boots,” where his journalistic opinion disappointingly devolved into a groundless and incredibly vulgar tirade against the Upper Chamber.
We especially take issue with the claim that the DAP hearing shows that the “Senate supported the President’s hijacking of its role over the budget,” especially when the column presents not a single iota of concrete proof to back such an allegation.
We emphasize that Senate hearings serve not only to aid legislation, but also to inform the public about the full and comprehensive picture of the nation’s most pressing issues. That means, as reflected in the DAP hearing, that positive aspects of an issue will be discussed, alongside with its critical or negative aspects.
It is undeniable that during the July 24 DAP hearing, senators who were critical of the administration’s use of the DAP were allowed to pose questions as freely as the senators who have expressed support for the program.
We note that no less than Senate finance committee chair Francis
Escudero has said that a subsequent hearing on DAP has been set, where more questions on the issue—such as those suggested by Tiglao–could be addressed.
Even more revolting is how Tiglao wrote off the Senate as a “a well-paid prostitute under Aquino, willing to do any perverted sex act before the public as long as it gets its pork barrel money.” It is lamentable how a former diplomat and Cabinet member betrayed his status by resorting to obscene metaphors in conveying his disdain for a democratic institution.
It is disturbing to hear Tiglao, a former activist in the Marcos years, hint that the enforcement of the rule of law can be handled by “an enlightened people’s armed forces” instead of civilian rule, and to suggest such a militarist undermining of the country’s democratic institutions.
No less than Senate President Franklin M. Drilon has made it clear that the Senate will strive towards reforms to public governance, in order to regain public trust. That is why public hearings on contested issues like the DAP are encouraged and freely conducted. While we respect and defend Tiglao’s right to express his views, newspaper columnists also have the responsibility to discuss national issues in a manner that would educate the public, promote rational dialogue and create solutions, rather than inspire demagoguery and hatred through baseless vitriol.
Print Media Director
Public Relations and Information Bureau
Senate of the Philippines
Senate PRIB Phils <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[OpEd Editor’s note: This letter was emailed to The Times on Aug. 3, 2014]