If his purpose was to clear himself in the PDAF scam, then I must say that Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s privilege speech last week was a dud. After much bravado, Estrada’s “bombshell” turned out to be a “firecracker.” “The lion roared and produced a mouse,” as the adage goes.
His “Untold PDAF story” accusing Senate President Franklin Drilon of, in so many words, buying the votes of the senators for P50 million each in return for the conviction of former chief justice Renato Corona did not exonerate him. It buried him.
Spreading the guilt only widens the pool of corruption but doesn’t make the guilty innocent. He can now bid adieu to his presidential or vice presidential ambition in 2016.
There was nothing in his privilege speech that would enlighten the public on how he used his pork, much less explain why he chose Napoles’ fake NGOs as conduits for his PDAF. Or why, despite his protestation of innocence, some letters he had sent to the Senate Finance Committee bore his genuine signature.
It is highly possible that Estrada had something else in mind when he delivered his speech other than to exculpate himself from the PDAF scam. He must be hurting terribly and wanted the continuing publication of his alleged involvement in the Napoles fake NGO’s stopped.
An unimpeachable source tells me that Estrada sent a message to Malacañang to spare him the agony of a public humiliation and possibly criminal prosecution. (It should be clear by now that Malacañang is the conductor of the Napoles PDAF scam show. But the issue has spun so out of control that the Palace is attempting to put off the flames engulfing the President and his allies. But that is another story.)
Someone from the office of Estrada also called COA chief Grace Pulido-Tan to exclude him from the COA list of lawmakers in the PDAF scam. Pulido-Tan, however, was unmoved. The COA selective list of lawmakers who allegedly dipped their hands into the anomalous PDAF transactions went on to hog the national headlines.
Frustrated, Estrada tried another tack. A week prior to his “PDAF Untold Story,” speech, he said that he would deliver an expose to lay bare all that he knows about the PDAF scam. The D-Day came. No Estrada privilege speech. Still, the public was gripped by high expectations of a “bombshell.”
The one week window was actually meant to give Malacañang time to respond to his request” to spare him from the alleged Napoles PDAF scam. Sensing the futility of his pleadings with the Palace, Estrada then decided to sharpen the conflict and take a bolder, more confrontational road to perdition. He came up with his “Scorched Earth” strategy or “Zero Sum Game” where nobody is spared. “If I go down, we all do.”
Estrada may have hurt himself in the process and shattered his presidential or vice presidential dream. But certainly, either by design or by accident, his “expose” had some positive results. He literally brought the house down. In one instant, presidential and vice presidential aspirants (dreamers and pretenders) were laid low.
Their bodies litter the Senate floor. One by one, they were felled with the “PDAF: the untold story” that the public says did Estrada no good.
At the very least, Estrada’s expose did the public good. For one, it confirms the people’s suspicion that money did indeed change hands during the impeachment trial of Corona and that the President, no less, was the prime architect of the move and marshaled government resources to oust the Chief Justice from office. For another, it enriched public discourse on the evil of PDAF and has kept the public pressure on the legislators and the President to scrap pork in all its forms.
For sure, Estrada’s expose lanced the veil of daang matuwid.
It was a clear case of “Amor con amor se paga” (you scratch my back, I scratch yours).
Some say it was a bribe. I couldn’t agree more. Call it additional pork, incentive, or Development Assistance Program (DAP), it is still pork. “ A dead rat, by any other name, still smells as bad,” to paraphrase Shakespeare.
The Times’ columnist Ambassador Rigoberto Tiglao in his article on Monday exposed the lies of DBM Secretary Florencio Abad, Senate President Franklin Drilon and the Palace spokesmen, showing that contrary to their claim, the additional PDAF had been released to the senators months or weeks before the lawmakers voted to convict Corona of crimes against the people.
For me, the most glaring positive result of the Estrada “expose” was its effect on some senators. Some of them are now feeling remorseful. Their consciences are bothering them no end. Because of that, they are now unburdening themselves in private. They have begun to talk of the preceding events that ultimately led to the conviction of Corona.
Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla, for instance, was so moved by the Estrada privilege speech that he was entertaining the idea of following suit. Up to this writing, he is still weighing his options and the consequences. So far, he is still trying to summon his courage to come out in the open.
Two independent sources have confirmed that DILG Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas, some days before the actual voting, called Revilla and asked him for a meeting.
Roxas and Revilla drove to Bahay Pangarap. To Revilla’s amazement, Roxas left all his security aides, took the wheel of a bulletproof SUV and asked that he also leave his bodyguards behind. He complied. But as he was about to board the SUV, Roxas asked him to sit in the back of the car. He did.
When they reached Bahay Pangarap that same afternoon, they were greeted by the President and DBM Secretary Abad. After a brief handshake, the President said, “Tulungan mo na ko sa isyu na ito (referring to the Corona impeachment trial). Bong replied: “Gagawin ko po, Mr. President, kung ano ang tama.”
During the same meeting, the P50million additional PDAF was taken up. It was not clear who brought up the P50-million “reward.” Revilla had reportedly admitted accepting the P50-million additional PDAF.
Now, if that P50-million additional PDAF was not a bribe, what is? If the President did not intervene in the Corona impeachment trial as the President and his Palace factotum would claim, what was that meeting with Revilla in the presence of Roxas and Abad all about? And if the meeting was legitimate, why would Roxas do a “James Bond” leaving all his bodyguards, driving his SUV by himself and asking Revilla to sit in the back of the car?
Questions, questions, questions. Yet, no credible, honest, straightforward answers from the President’s allies. So far, the public is being taken for a ride by Malacañang and its allies. Lies, lies, lies. How much more can the people take?