I left the country more than two weeks ago, and the central focus then of Senators Antonio Trillanes 4th, Alan Peter Cayetano and Aquilino Pimentel 3rd and their principal media ally was the alleged wrongdoing and ill-gotten wealth of Vice President Jejomar Binay when he was still mayor of Makati. I came home yesterday from that short trip, and the same parties were still focused on the same thing. Only the intensity of the assault seems to have changed.
For the past few months, this has been the single most important issue confronting the three young terrors of the Senate, and their principal ally in the conscript press. Everywhere else, everyone has managed to discuss other things—Ukraine, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), Hong Kong, China, Russia, India, BRICS, Ebola in West Africa and the United States. But not here, and not our three senators.
Now, everyone else seems focused on what the three young senators are trying to do to Binay. Except perhaps for the National Transformation Council, which believes the nation’s most pressing irreducible minimum business is a regime change and a total overhaul of the electoral system as a condition sine qua non for the holding of the next election, and for Greco Belgica and his group, who believe that the immediate jailing of all those involved in the misuse of the unconstitutional multi-billion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) will bring about the needed regime change.
This is perhaps but natural and normal where spectacle has replaced substance.
It is not quite the same as the old Roman spectacle of feeding Christians to the lions, but the act appears close enough, however differently situated the characters. Lacking governance and the basic goods in life, the people need to be entertained, and the Senate circus is prime entertainment. The three terrors see Binay as the biggest single threat to their political ambitions, and so he must be thrown to the lions. Thus, the Senate blue ribbon committee (actually subcommittee) investigation.
As we have said a few times before in this space, it is all-wrong. It is against all forms of decency and fair play, against the Constitution, and against the Rules of the Senate, particularly the Rules Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation. The act of finding out whether or not a person is guilty of a crime, especially one that is already in the hands of the Ombudsman, or which properly belongs to the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman, is strictly the business of the courts, where Congress may not interfere. The least of us recognize this as the “separation of powers.”
The three senators began their investigation on the basis of an allegation about overpricing in the construction of a Makati city building, coming from a former Makati city official, who had earlier filed the same complaint before the Ombudsman. No one has bothered to find out whether the Makati politician had sought out the senators for help, or whether the senators had sought out the Makati politician to provide them with a “case” against Binay. But that information is critical.
The original allegation has since branched out into a grand fishing expedition. From Makati, the expedition went into Binay’s Rosario, Batangas farm. Until now, they insist on calling it “an inquiry in aid of legislation.” But it is not at all, and can never be, an “inquiry in aid of legislation.” Not because there is no pending legislation that would benefit from the investigation, but simply because legislation is clearly not the purpose of the investigation.
Its sole thrust and purpose from the very beginning has been to show that Binay is guilty of wrongdoing, that he is corrupt and unworthy to aspire for higher office, which he has admitted is his immediate goal. In fact, the most arrogant and abrasive of the three senators was known to have boasted that he would have Binay jailed by December. And those testifying against Binay have been offered official protection under the “witness protection” act, which has never happened, and has no need to happen, in a mere “inquiry in aid of legislation.”
Now, to repeat a question we have asked before, who are these senators conducting the investigation? Without going back to their previous lives, it is enough to note that they are senators who had received at least P50 million each from the unconstitutional DAP for voting to convict and remove Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona on May 29, 2012, at the behest of Malacañang. They are guilty of corruption, they do not have clean hands.
They have no right to investigate anybody at all, unless they first survive investigation and prosecution for their own crimes. In a more civilized society, they should have immediately resigned after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada revealed the payoff, and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad officially confirmed the same. So the real question is, why are they still there?
Now, for all their venom and bile, they have failed to back up their allegations against Binay with the slightest scintilla of evidence, and they have refused to bring him to court, which alone could decide and should decide his innocence or guilt. Obviously their objective is simply to destroy Binay’s reputation or at the very least to embarrass him.
Have they succeeded in that objective then? No, they have not, but they certainly have wounded him. But they may have inflicted more severe damage on the Senate, on the judicial system, on the conscript media, on the general moral and political environment, and, lest we forget, upon themselves