Senate ‘Demolition Committee’ wasting taxpayer money

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The probe by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee into an allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building has cemented the perception of many ordinary Filipinos that the powerful investigative body of the Upper House has become a vehicle for members of the ruling majority to demolish their political opponents.

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Unlike the pre-Martial Law blue ribbon committee whose investigations gained notoriety for its alleged shakedown of businesses and business folks, the post-EDSA Revolt reincarnation of the Senate’s Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations – as the Blue Ribbon Committee is more formally known – has attained infamy of a different kind: the public vilification of political adversaries.

Nowhere has this been more manifest than in the investigation into the multi-billion pork barrel scam, which culminated in the arrest and detention of Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile.

After the opposition senators were placed behind bars, blue ribbon committee chair Senator TG Guingona announced that he is no longer interested in resuming hearings on the PDAF scam. This even after the alleged pork scam ringleader’s confession that several other senators, congressmen and even some Cabinet officials had also participated – and profited – from the anomalous scheme.

Now, Guingona’s committee has set its sights on the 11-storey office and parking building project of the Makati City government during the term of then mayor, Vice-President Jojo Binay, and current mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay.

In a highly unusual move (probably a first in Senate history), Guingona allowed the creation of a sub-committee under the blue ribbon committee to be presided over by Senator Koko Pimentel, to handle the investigation into the construction of the controversial edifice.

Although Pimentel claims that the purpose of his sub-committee’s investigation is “principally legislative,” many Filipinos aren’t buying that line, and understandably so.

What makes the probe of Pimentel’s sub-committee highly suspect is that the construction of the building wholly financed by the local government of Makati is a purely local issue, not to mention an unprecedented departure from the blue ribbon committee’s historical and traditional task of investigating only matters of “national” significance.

Another thing that’s quite dubious about Pimentel’s investigation is that his panel’s main witness, lawyer Renato Bondal, is an admitted political foe of the Binays, having lost to Mayor Junjun in the 2010 mayoralty race.

It doesn’t help that the two Nacionalista Party (NP) senators quarterbacking the hearings – Senators Antonio Trillanes (who authored the Senate resolution calling for the investigation) and Alan Peter Cayetano – are known critics of the Binays. Incidentally, both senators have expressed their intention to run for higher office in 2016, making them potential rivals of Vice-President Binay in the next elections.

What also raises many people’s eyebrows is that the Ombudsman – which is the office tasked to investigate and file cases against erring public officials—already has an on-going investigation into the controversial building after Bondal filed plunder and graft charges against Vice-President Binay, his son Junjun and 23 others last month.

The parallel probe being conducted by Pimentel’s sub-committee does not serve any real legislative purpose except to provide a venue for budding opponents and critics to destroy the public image of Vice-President Binay, who has been a consistent frontrunner in presidential surveys.

We’re sure, however, that Vice-President Binay isn’t surprised by the apparent hatchet job against him.

As early as June this year (or more than a month before Bondal surfaced), Joey Salgado, the Vice-President’s spokesperson, had correctly predicted that a group of “serial losers” in the Makati local elections would be filing charges against the Vice President, Mayor Junjun and several city officials over a local project that had previously passed review and audit by the Commission on Audit (COA).

The political enemies of the Vice President “at the national and local levels have come to some sort of an arrangement to mount a full-scale demolition job on the Vice President and his family” preparatory to the 2016 national elections, Salgado revealed.

The way we see it, Guingona’s blue ribbon committee ought to be spending taxpayer money investigating issues that matter more to ordinary Filipinos such as the 64 non-government organizations (NGOs) not identified with Janet Napoles which received approximately P4-billion worth of pork barrel funds. That’s double the amount pocketed by Napoles’ shell foundations. Until now, the players behind these bogus NGOs have not been unmasked and brought to justice.

There’s also the exposé of rice trader Jojo Soliman who claimed that National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Arthur Juan extorted P15-million from him, to be divided equally among the NFA chief, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Presidential Assistant on Food Security Kiko Pangilinan. Soliman presented bank deposit slips to prove that money changed hands but the investigation seems to have been stonewalled.

And what about the frequent MRT breakdown reportedly being orchestrated by transportation officials pushing for a negotiated (i.e. no-bidding) contract with their favored maintenance contractor?

No wonder the Senate’s survey rating keeps on plummeting.

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14 Comments

  1. you’re right, those half-baked senators are using public funds to demolish the opposition. look at the pdaf scam, only opposition are incarcerated. those with pnoy, de lema still validating it, maybe for eternity. this investigation is a farce, the thieve became an investigator. shames!

  2. victor m. hernandez on

    Matuwid na daan o natuwad sa daan? Maraming grandstanding ang mga senators, at gustong pulbusin ang mga kalaban sa politica, hindi na bale makalimutan ang mga importanteng mga problema sa bayan!

  3. Yes, it appears to be a waste. The senate should subpoena the private contractor who built the “building parking lot” to explain why it was expensively priced! It’s that simple enough! If the private contract does not appear, then charge them with contempt!

  4. These meetings conducted by the senate blue ribbon committee – I was of the belief that they were for “in aid of legislation”. It turns out however that the meetings were as a place to do, as you have said “demolition job”. And it is quite interesting to note that those demolished and to be demolished are those potential threats for the administration candidate/s in the forthcoming 2016 national elections “if there will be one”. The Senate which is supposed to be a respectable institution is losing its integrity and what a pity, we still have to wait till their term ends before they can be rid of.

  5. risalinomercader on

    takot na po sila kasi pag si binay ang umupo presidente sigurado lilitaw n nman po ang balimbing nttakot sila baka sa kulungan din ang babagsakan nila si caateno and trillanes ni isnag batas para sa employment ay walang naisagawa kasi masarap pa lang maglustay ng pera ng bayan biruin mo kakapit ka lang kay pinoy may millones kan maibubulsa. kay hayun isang paswit lang ni pinoy lahat sila bahag ng buntot

  6. I don’t believe anymore in Guingona’s so-called investigation. It’s a waste of people’s taxpayer’s money. Neither do I believe in the present crops of members of Congress – they are super “BABOY.”

  7. I think what made it a national interest one is because Binay is trying to be president, so the people need to know how he fared in Makati…and wasn’t Pimentel himself said that he has a pending bill about LGUs…not to mention the elder Pimented was the father of the Local Govt Code of the Phil…something the lawmakers enacted..how can that not be national in nature….duhhhhh…Binayaran member, welcome to your club.

  8. Jose A. Oliveros on

    I have attended numerous congressional investigations from 1969 to the present, both by the House of Representatives and the Senate, either as a plain observer, a counsel for a “resource person” or as a resource person myself and I cannot recall any major piece of legislation that came out of those investigations. Under the Constitution, congressional investigations are “in aid of legislation” but as they have been turning out, they are either in aid of re-election, to pillory a political opponent, or for some senator or congressman – who are obviously frustrated lawyers – to display their skills (or more appropriately, lack of it) in the art of cross-examination.

  9. Yes this is such a waste of time and taxpayers money. Trilanes and Cayetano should be made to pay for this self interest committee hearing. After the two defended such a bad DAP program they are clearly only interested in self promotion.

  10. Yes this is such a waste of time and taxpayers money. Trilanes and Cayetano should be made for this self interest committee hearing. After the two defended such a bad DAP program they are clearly only interested in self promotion.

  11. jose b. taganahan on

    This article is written by another lapdog of the Binays. While it is true that an investigation is already undergoing before the Office of the Ombudsman, the Senate blue Ribbon Committee hearing will give the public the opportunity to know what really is happening in Makati specially when one of those investigated is the Vice President and front runner in the 2016 Presidential election. The hearing in the OMB is not made public and it is not farfetched that those Ombudsman investigators may succumb to the bribe money that the Binays are prepared to give to them in order to get a favorable result.If there was really no anomaly in the construction of the 11-storey building at cost of 2.7 billion then it will make the Vice President more certain to win the 2016 Presidential derby.

  12. rene catalasan on

    Dulay-
    It looks like you don’t know what you’re writing about!
    Just wait for the conclusion of the Senate probe on the Binay’s family for the good of the country and not for the good of one family.Get it?
    The Binays should welcome the probe and all the columnists like you, period.

  13. Senate ‘Demolition Committee’ wasting taxpayer money

    And these bunch of Stooges conducting this “grandstanding” are a waste of seats in this tainted Senate. A bunch of Pork-fed Yellow Hacks harping on some overpriced cake, overpriced building, etc, etc….. and defending their Master’s idea of DAP -, sweetened with a holistic catch phrase of ‘in good faith” intention – well intended for the poor “Bosses”.- “kuno”, as the stress -emphazising local word – indicating hideous connotation from a cannot be fooled and well informed reader, but easily a sugar-coated lure for an innocent who is willing for a round the wheel TSUVIVO ride…

  14. You got it right air!lLibreng kampanya nga tuloy ang nangyayari dito sa mga politikong gustong tumakbo sa 2016! Exposure and media mileage na agad eh makisali lang sila dito sa Demolition Team sa senate.