Time to roll up your sleeves, Honorable Senators


Many senators are raring to be back in the glare of publicity but it’s high time that they stop pressing for the yellow ribbon committee to look into the “tell-all” affidavit of Janet Lim Napoles on the pork barrel scam and devote more time to lawmaking.

Some of the senators may be well-meaning but do they think the yellow ribbon chair, Sen. TG Guingona, would make an honest-to-goodness inquiry into Napoles’ reported new list of scam participant-lawmakers? While Guingona had claimed that he would seek the truth even if the heavens fell, he has never called any accountable official of the Department of Budget and Management testify.

Guingona admitted that the scam wouldn’t have been possible without the connivance of key DBM people. Holding such commonsense conviction, how come he has never called any DBM official to the Senate hearings? “Because nobody had linked them (to the racket),” he explained. Well, that’s your Guingona-style full-dress inquiry Expect him to skirt any fact or issue that might taint the administration and its allies.

Sure, President BS Aquino 3d is on record saying that anybody, whether allies or foes, who has committed a crime must go to jail. However, there has been no instance of any Aquino administration ally who has gone to jail. On the contrary, the administration has often gone out of its way to help allies accused of crimes. More, nobody in the administration has admitted any wrongdoing, so how could Guingona investigate any of them?

Okay, okay, let’s forget for a while Guingona who has often claimed that the corrupt practices of the previous administration aren’t possible under the Aquino administration with its “tuwid na daan.” That means we’ll have to count on the zeal and probity of the members of the yellow ribbon —but the prospects with them as probers aren’t that bright either.

If they could find nothing wrong in Guingona’s giving media the first crack at the committee “findings” on the pork barrel inquiry, then how can the public trust their judgment and independence? Guingona took away their right to give their own inputs into the committee report. If they could accept such cavalier treatment, then they might as well let Guingona conduct all hearings by his lonesome. If they are not bothered by reports that the DOJ-endorsed “state witnesses” had lied in the hearings, then they can’t validly claim—and be trusted—to want to ferret out the truth.

The senators urging the yellow ribbon to look into the Napoles tell-all list should be reminded that their credibility on the issue is already zero. Ex-Sen. Ping Lacson, who has a copy of the list, said that the number of senators in the list could constitute a quorum. The committee might end up investigating the majority of its members. Even if those not on the list end up being the only ones left to continue with the inquiry, it’s unbelievable that they will come out with a truthful report damning their colleagues. And who would accept any Senate finding exonerating its members of any involvement in the scandal?

Incidentally, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said that the Napoles list is part of a disinformation campaign being waged by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile. I note that the name of JPE is on the list, which Justice Secretary Leila de Lima confirms. Now, who in his right mind would include his own name on a list meant to mislead the public? Senator Miriam had also claimed that JPE was the “true mastermind” of the pork barrel scam. A brilliant mind wouldn’t produce any document that would pin himself down, unless of course she has given JPE more credit for brilliance than he deserves.

The main reason why the Senate should now take its hands off the pork barrel issue is that it needs to devote more time to lawmaking. When the chamber resumes its regular session on May 5, it will be holding only its 66th session day in 287 calendar days. It has had more recess than working days. The Senate spent just 122 hours 22 minutes in the 62 session days with journal or an average of less than two hours per session, and this includes at least 8 minutes per session devoted to the referral of bills and numerous suspensions.

The Senate must ignore surveys showing greater public appreciation of its performance. Nothing beats results, and the Senate so far has produced virtually nothing. Senators must act on the long list of noteworthy bills begging for their attention instead of on headline-hogging inquiries. That’s the only way that the senators can salvage what’s left of the Senate’s prestige—if it’s not yet too late.



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