COMPARE THE DAP AND MAKATI BUILDING HEARINGS

Senate is self-destructing

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It is astonishing both how the Senate continues its debasement as a political weapon used by President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd and how its members are oblivious of their degraded status.

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Can’t they realize that the Senate, once the pantheon of the nation’s most respected and independent political leaders, has now become a house of political harlots?

Even Pulse Asia, founded by Aquino’s cousins, couldn’t conceal the trend shown by its opinion polls, that the Senate’s trust ratings have plunged from 41 percent in December to 31 percent last June. Can’t they see that people’s views of them, because of their pagka-tuta—to use that vivid Pilipino political term – are following the fall of their lordship Aquino’s ratings, from 52 percent to 29 in the same period?

The Senate’s latest service to its Boss was undertaken last week, a demolition job against Vice President Jejomar Binay. It is obviously a desperate attempt to pull down Binay’s ratings since there are just 20 months left to the May 2016 elections. Binay’s lead of 41 percent preference is miles away from Aquino’s sidekick Mar Roxas’ basement level of 6 percent. Even if they throw support behind Mar in the form of billions of pesos they have amassed through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), he still won’t have a chance.

It has become a matter of survival, literally personal survival for Aquino. Out of power, he stands to face hundreds of technical malversation cases because of his illegal DAP, and the penalty won’t be “technical” but jail terms and financial penalties.

Now we know why Aquino moved heaven and earth to jail opposition senators Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla. With the other opposition senators now meek as lambs, Aquino has the Senate eating out of his hand.

Binay's accuser with his cake gig. Inset: His fans Senators Cayetano and Trillanes: Demolition crew?

Binay’s accuser with his cake gig. No, he isn’t complaining about his dessert. Inset: His fans Senators Cayetano and Trillanes: Demolition crew?

Debasement
The Senate’s debasement would be so obvious to you if you watched that Senate hearing, ostensibly on the overpricing of a Makati City building, but clearly only a scripted pull down of the frontrunner in the presidential race. (This is still posted at http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/08/20/1359349/live-senate-probes-makatis-p1.56-b-parking-building.)

The following are vignettes from that Senate hearing on the alleged overpricing of the Makati city office building. Claiming that it was just a parking building is another Hitler type of lie that is the favorite strategy of this administration: repeat a big lie again, and again.

■ The accuser Renato Bondal, who lost against the vice-president’s son Mayor Jejomar Erwin (Jun) Binay, Jr. in the 2013 elections despite enormous financial backing by senator Alan Cayetano’s camp, alleged that the Makati building, which cost P2.7 billion, was overpriced. His proof? He claims, the Kuok’s Shang Tower building cost P2.1 billion while the Ayalas’ The Residences at Greenbelt cost only P2.6 billion. His source? Wikipedia. Check out that website’s sources for those figures. None. At those prices, a source said, the Kuoks owning Shang and the Ayalas owning the residential complex —would have made tens of billions of pesos, given the price they sold their condominiums there. His estimate for their real construction costs: P5 billion, at 2007 prices for the Shang, and P8 billion for the three Residences towers.

■ Bondal claims the construction cost should be just P7,000 per square meter. At that price I can have a 240-sqm mansion at P1.7 milllion. I beg Bondal and Trillanes to ask their contractors to build a home for me at that price in a Cavite town. The best quote I could get, was P25,000 per sqm, and that’s at cost, and labor there is a lot cheaper than Makati.

■ After claiming that the Makati city building has only one elevator, he says, as if scripted, that Binay has a better elevator in his residence. Obviously on cue, Senator Trillanes nearly jumps to ask the mayor if this is true, delighted at the chance to taint Binay’s son as living a luxurious lifestyle.

■ In a theatrical but really comedic move, Bondal brings to the Senate hearing five cakes—yep, the actual cakes— which, he says, he just bought at the cake-shop at P300 to P500 each. Then out of the blue, he claims that similar cakes were bought by the Makati government at P1,000 as gifts to the city’s senior citizens on their birthday. The city administrator the next day would submit purchase orders showing the cakes were bought at P306.75. Even Senator Koko Pimentel was irritated and asked what those cakes had to do with the topic of the hearings, which at the time was the cost of Makati city building. “I know the investigation was titled ‘Makati building overprice and other anomalies,’ but this matter of cakes is ridiculous.” The video didn’t  show though if the cakes were later served to the senators for dessert.

Not even finessed
The hearing was an obvious but very poor excuse to taint in a televised event the integrity not of the current mayor Binay, but Vice-President Binay, currently the shoo-in for the presidency in 2016.

They didn’t even bother to finesse their attempt since the very aggressive accusers were two ambitious senators, Antonio Trillanes and Alan Peter Cayetano, both of whom have been begging Aquino to anoint them as vice-presidential and presidential candidates for 2016.

Trillanes, I’m afraid, was losing his marbles when he said: “This is bigger than the pork barrel scam.” What? And he based his conclusion that Binay pocketed P2 billion on the allegation made by that loser, Bondal, who cited Wikipedia entries, which had not mentioned its source for such info?

Didn’t he know that the pork barrel allegations were based not only on nearly a dozen whistle-blowers’ testimonies, but also from a Commission on Audit’s special audit that took three years to complete?

I wonder if Trillanes even knows how to count: P2 billion alleged overprice compared with the P10 billion —at the very least—siphoned off by the pork-loving lawmakers?

If you watched the accuser Bondal in the hearing, here’s the immediate conclusion you’d get: This guy is an operator.

He even came up with cheap sound-bites that he hoped would be repeated on the front-pages by calling the building a “double-bukol” and that Makati was the “chop-chop” capital of the world, since several contractors built the structure.

Even Senate President Franklin Drilon, Aquino’s lieutenant in the Senate, was shocked by Bondal’s loaded terms and asked him not to use these in the hearing, or “the people would think this hearing is just for politics.”

DAP hearing so different
The Disbursement Acceleration Program involved P147 billion of taxpayers’ money, hijacked by President Aquino and used for projects at his whim. It virtually threw into the dustbin the Congress’ constitutional authority to determine how state funds were spent.

Yet in the Senate hearing on the DAP, Trillanes acted as if he were part of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s staff and that the only thing wrong he found was that it wasn’t properly communicated to the nation. His main point: “You have to improve your communication program to explain this to the people.”

In contrast, at the Senate hearing on the P2.7 billion cost of the Makati building, Trillanes practically coached the accuser, repeated his accusations to make sure television audiences heard it, and reiterated the accusers’ loaded terms like “Binay building.”

He badgered Commission on Audit chair Grace Pulido-Tan to state that the COA—i.e., the three-man commission —had not approved the report by the auditor, whom it had assigned in Makati City, that found nothing wrong with the building’s cost.

But Tan, who was at the hearing and probably still in disbelief that Aquino didn’t appoint her to the Supreme Court, didn’t bother to point out that except for some special audits, the audits done by its units covering 3,000 government entities are not approved by the COA itself, but presumed to be accurate unless some higher supervisory unit asks it to review these on suspicion that they are wrong. The COA’s explosive audit of pork barrel use, for instance, was made by its special audit team, and transmitted—without the three-man commission approving it—by the chair to the budget secretary.
 
Who should investigate?
The Makati building may have been overpriced, or not. Who or what agency has the competence and the authority to determine the facts?

Constitutionally, COA is the supreme authority that decides on whether government funds were misused or not. But for the first time in our history, this administration had defied such COA authority in the case of the charges filed against former president Gloria Arroyo for alleged malversation of the intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes office. It even included the former COA head, Rey Villar, under whose term the PCSO’s books were cleared, in the charges.

Bondal had followed this precedent and filed a graft case against the Binays in the Ombudsman.

If this were brought to the Sandiganbayan, the accuser and the defendants would present their own witnesses to prove whether the price was padded or not. And it would be the Sandiganbayan that, in effect, would rule whether it was overpriced or not, based on the testimonies.

If Aquino, through Trillanes and Cayetano, would want to squeeze every ounce of propaganda out of the allegation in order to pull down Binay’s ratings, they have all the right to do so. Aquino could also pressure the Ombudsman to file the case at the Sandiganbayan.

Bondal and Trillanes could call for weekly press conferences, bring as many cakes as they want, present slide shows on the cost of Shang Towers and The Residences according to Wikipedia, and even run full-page ads in the newspapers on the allegation.

But to use the precious time of the Senate for such a hearing is just downright cheap. The country has so many economic problems and yet, the Senate has all the time to squander taxpayers’ money and undertake yet another political tear-down of its boss’ perceived enemies.

Trillanes and Cayetano are flawed creatures of our damaged political system—so young, so ambitious for higher posts, so cunning. But the only distinction they have earned after several years in the Senate is as its character-demolition experts.

If they’re supposed to be the next generation of our political leaders, we’re doomed, really doomed.

tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
FB: Rigoberto D. Tiglao

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33 Comments

  1. The problem in the Philippines is that most of the politicians voted into their respective offices do not know why the filipinos voted for them. They are fighting not for the good of the country but for how much money they could generate. As if it is on money that they will not expire in this world. You could not bring money to yoiur grave, please use your common sense to solve the problems affecting most pilipinos. Look for something beneficial to the people like job creations, control the rising of prices, improve the economy so people will not be in survival mode. Most politicians are schooled but not educated. Don’t be jealous with other politicians just work for the good of the nation. No need for demolition jobs, just work, work, & work rightfully for the next generations to follow.

  2. Yes, this country is doomed. It’s been doomed since the Yellows took over in 1986. It’s a slow motion destruction we are experiencing, will take maybe a few more years to finish, but still destruction, nonetheless, is the final outcome.

  3. I live in Makati for almost 15 years but I never vote there, the story that Binay is a corrupt official is always an issue during the election but still Binay won. I ask some of my neighbors why they vote Binay despite the allegations, their answer is simple Makati is doing great under Binay, the free hospitalization & good school buildings is one of them, besides Binay have some personal commitment w/ his constituents, I saw him personally visiting my neighbors & spend some time with them, thats why they have this gift cake & free movie entry for every Makati Sr citizen. What I know is that the Bondals & the Binays are previous family friends but I dont know why they parted.

  4. These senators who received bribes to oust CJ Corona are absolutely shameless. They know in their heart of hearts, that they are bribe takers. Yet they face the people, , on TV yet, and act as though bribe taking is the most ordinary thing that senators do in their everyday life. I guess they have become so used to corruption, that they now believe, in their own twisted minds, that bribe taking was the proper thing to do. SHAMELESS, SHAMELESS, SHAMELESS.

  5. In the upper house of Brutus, Caesar can do what he ought to do?? Mortals like us cannot question the whims and caprices of the gods of Mammon just like when Madam LitlleBitch was oin power???

  6. Bonifacio Claudio on

    Ruffy says:
    August 25, 2014 at 8:43 am
    “During Senate investigation… It’s getting cheaper every time they probe… Ombudsman headed by a woman, COA headed by a woman, DOJ headed by a woman which are mandated to probe fund misuse or any wrongdoing.”

    Even the Bible has told us that God got angry for the very first time because of a woman — who was cunning enough to have been able to hide FROM “THE-ALL-KNOWING” her unwillingness to toe the line, coveting & finding glory in the thing FORBIDDEN. hehehe… just riding on lang poh…

  7. gabriela silang on

    it’s high time for senate and house to set parameters and guidelines in conducting inquiries. it’s a total debasement of both houses how inquiries are conducted. not all must be probed by both houses. inquiries are supposed to be in aid of legislation but as things are done, inquiries are in aid of demolition and election. we have the courts to judge the culpability of whosoever run afoul of the law. not congress. let the courts determine the illegality of the acts of binays. congress can not determine such.am no binay fan and i am for the full accounting of their deeds and misdeeds. i know the binays are not lily white and they should pay for their illegal acts. there is much corruption in makati. senate inquiry can not pin down the culpabilty of binays. senate can not put them behind bars. the courts can. we’ve had much circus in both houses. let’s put a stop to this! our lawmakers are just playing and exploiting people’s gullibility.

  8. Hmm, I thought there was just one SAMS Antonio in that building. Now, there are two SAMS (Stupid Asshole Masquerading as Senator) pala. Kawawa naman ang bayan.

  9. The recent senate inquiry of Mayor Binay is truly a demolition job,they are trying every method to assassinate his character,this is a gasping attitude of this administration,in my opinion,this administration has NO credible candidate,Mr.Roxas ,absolutely has no chance,his image is not presidential,as to Cayetano and the rest,they are political discards and vultures, In fact as I see it,even Vice President Binay will not win,the present political scenario has no decent candidate, I surmise this administration will cast some political hocus pocus to insure they stay in power.WHY? Because we have a nation compose mostly of idiotic and unpatriotic electotarate,this will be and advantage to this administration,,as to the senate? All I can say,is, is there a senate now?phwew

  10. Senate of Drillon is a HAREM of Noy. Drillon is the Papa san. The prostitutes in the senates will spread their legs so wide anytime Noy feels the urge.

  11. risalino mercader on

    kawawang ph bkit kaya ibinoto nyo ang mga taong ganito like trillanes and cayetano mga tuta ni pnoy nakakahiya they spent people money sa walang kabagay bagay bakit di ang pagtuunan ay kung paano makagagawa ng maraming trabaho kaysa ganito na puro paninira ang gnagawa kawawang ph

  12. The Senate has self distructed when we got the

    perennial coup plotters (Honasan, Enrile),
    bad comics & actors (Sotto, Estrada ),
    suka sychopants (Escudero, Cayetano),
    ugly bastards (Binay, Aquino),
    wifes-club (Villar, Lagarda)
    landgrabber (Angara, Enrile again),
    lawyer-fixer (Drilon, Guingona ),
    stupid as in life is a box of chocolates kind stupid (Lapid, Madrigal)

    I just wish someone or some group in the philippines puts up a show like Bill Maher, wherein we can pull potshots at all the inanities happening in our country.

  13. Triplanes should explain where did he get the monies to buy in cash the more than 30 units of Delica vans and 4 units of buses he used in his failed Oakwood mutiny. These are verified facts that these vehicles came from a car dealer in Quezon City then and paid in cash.

  14. I wonder why with all the so-called intelligent people in the Senate and all those people involved in this investigation did not think of having this building assessed for total project cost by a competent Project Cost Consultancy companies. There are so many cost consultancy companies in the Philippines and all over the world whose business is to provide cost estimates for building construction. Send the plans, specifications and other project documents to one or more of these consultants and presto, you have an average estimated cost for it.

  15. Grabe ang hirap at sakripisyo ko para lamang ikampanya itong Trillanes na ito noong 2007!
    Eh hayop naman pala ang kalalabasan!
    Kasarap ingudngod!

  16. Mr. Tatad ,please next time ask mr. kudeta trillanes ,after his self serving heroism . what has he done to his fellow soldier now that he is a political animal..is he fighting for his comrades or is he fighting for his pocket and lust of power.

  17. Bert O. Romero on

    I don’t see anything wrong with the on-going Senate inquiry into the Binay family’s purported corruption. That is for as long as they are given their day in the proceedings and due process is observed. Based on last week’s proceedings, the Binay’s rights were amply protected. It was not the Senate’s fault that Senator Nancy Binay inhibited herself and left the defense of their family’s honor and reputation to two nincompoop senators in the persons of Sotto and Ejercito. The former especially could have more effectively defended the Binays by not appearing in the inquiry altogether thereby sparing the Senate and the nation from such inane utterances like ” … I don’t see anything wrong with giving senior citizens of Makati more expensive cakes”. By appearing before the Senate and being forced to make statements, he removed any lingering doubts he has an empty coconut shell. It was also not the Senate’s fault that Mayor Jun Jun did not refute the the allegation of expensive cakes right there and then but had to wait for its spokesman Salgado to rebutt the charge the following day yet. He is the mayor of Makati and ought to know how much was and is being spent for cakes. The issue of corruption has gone beyond the mere involvement of VP Binay. It’s now starting to emerge that corruption in Makati has become a family affair. It’s about time VP Binay take the cudgels for his family. One of the first acts he has to do is appear before the Senate and cast aside the statesman-like stance he has adopted on this issue of corruption and pretend he is above the fray. Corruption is an insidious issue that has a way of completely consuming a person or family accused of it.

  18. Roldan Guerrero on

    The THRILLA and the CAWATANO messing together! Thanks for your accurate message Mr. Tiglao.

  19. The senate, once an august body, has degenerated into a haven for corrupt, spineless bribe takers who falsely call themselves senators. All the investigations done in its halls, purportedly in aid of legislation, have produced nothing tangible for the people to get benefits from. In fact, they were mostly for show and nothing more, all aimed to display their ugly faces on television and on every newspaper in the country. The senate has outlived its usefullness. It is time for it to go.

    • The august halls of the senate has been desecrated by these kind of senators devoid of moral scruples. They have plunged the senate into the deepest abyss of shame. Can the senate be redeemed? Absolutely, yes. By electing into office moral and upright qualified men to its august halls. Not this kind of breed we have now. Not one of them must be re-elected even to the rank of a baranggay captain.

  20. Jose A. Oliveros on

    This column has reminded me again of a quip by American humorist-columnist Art Buchwald that when he read that Rome had a Senate, he was not surprised that Rome fell.

  21. Let the birth pains VP Binay continue. TBA Trillanes and Cayetano will not succeed aborting the destiny baby coming 2016.

    • Tama ka Leo, if the Binays can explain convincingly where did they all got their multi million assets as show in their SALN from the time VP Binay was appointed OIC Mayor of Makati by Pres. Cory, I will vote for all of them when they run this 2016. But if they cannot convince me, I will not vote not only the Binays but all members of DYNASTHIEVES, LEGISLATHIEVES and EXECUTHIEVES running this 2016. Sama ka ba Leo?

    • I agree but I will never vote for binay. I am now telling all my children to go abroad dahil walang pagasa sa pinas. lahat ng politiko sa pinas timawa.

    • Majority of qualified voters? Are you nuts. The reason why the Political System is so corrupt because you have BRAIN DEAD qualified voters. Nothing will get solved simply because you have a majority that are imbeciles.

  22. Samuel Santos on

    The heading of this article should be in the past tense: “The Senate has self-destructed.” Thanks to senators Trillanes and Cayetano, the architects of the senate’s self-destruction.

    • It is not only Trillanes and Cayetanos that is the cause of self distruction of the senate, lahat sila na tumangap ng DAP lalo na si Lolong Drillon at ginastos sa sariling kapakanan. Kung walang butas ay walang masisilip sila Cayetano at Trillanes.
      Ah ewan, sa akin lang wala akong ibuboto miembro ng mga DynasThieves, LegislaThieves at ExecuThieves sa 2016 election, LP, NP, PDP o UNA man sila kaya nuon 2013 walang nanalo sa mga senadores na binuto ko na mga miembro ng Kapatiran maliban sa isa at si Ted Casino. KAYO, sino ibuboto 2016?

    • Lolita marquez on

      He is correct for the destruction is continuing to the point of no return ..has self destructed, the act is not yet done yet, for one another hearing is forthcoming and maybe continuing on other issues.

    • Lolita marquez on

      He is correct for the destruction is continuing to the point of no return ..has self destructed, the act is not done yet, for one another hearing is forthcoming and maybe continuing destructions on other issues.

    • During Senate investigation, the Senate is no different from a Police Precinct. It’s getting cheaper every time they probe on something they should not. We have Ombudsman headed by a woman, COA headed by a woman, DOJ headed by a woman which are mandated to probe fund misuse or any wrongdoing.