THE province of Pampanga has produced such illustrious sons as Rufino Cardinal Santos, President Diosdado Macapagal, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Gov. Jose Lingad, etc. Then there’s former action star, former Vice Governor, former Governor and now Sen. Lito Lapid who’s about to end his second term on June 30, 2016.
Lapid won over then reelectionist Gov. Bren Guiao, who was supported by President Cory.
Would you believe that in 2004, GMA picked him over ex-Sen. Sonny Alvarez in the Lakas senatorial slate? He won (those from other countries wouldn’t believe it). Then, in 2007, he ran for mayor of Makati City. That was the only defeat he had suffered in his political career.
Much has been said about his lack of skills in the English language. Many may have forgotten that this didn’t stop GMA from inviting him to join her official party in her state visit to the United States. Oh well, he’s actually a frequent US visitor, especially when Manny Pacquiao has a fight there.
He didn’t give voters enough reason to justify his election in his first term. Fortunately for him, voters ignored this and gave him a second term in the Senate in 2010 under GMA’s ticket. Unfortunately for GMA, he was nowhere to be found when she was in great distress at the Senate and elsewhere.
Lapid’s shifting loyalties
“Senator Lapid!” the Senate Secretary said in November 2008.
Lapid, who was then talking with Sen. Bong Revilla raised his hand. He was then listed among the 14 members of the new Senate majority who voted for Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and unseated Sen. Manuel Villar.
“I thought that was a roll call,” he said later as he voiced his desire to join his fellow members of the Wednesday Group in the minority. Senators Nene Pimentel and Kiko Pimentel shared this belief.
The following day, JPE said that Lapid voted for him and that he would retain the chairmanship of the Committee on Games and Amusements, the panel that has jurisdiction over sports and illegal numbers games like jueteng. Lapid was then absent but Pangilinan doubted that this would make Lapid change his mind.
Well, on the next session day, Lapid ended debates by declaring that he was joining the majority.
Lapid and jueteng
In 2005, Lapid and Villar of the Senate Committee on Oublic Order and Illegal Drugs, conducted a joint investigation into jueteng operations. Lapid said he would be calling all the 27 persons identified by Sen. Nene Pimentel and the suspected masiao operators from Visayas and Mindanao.
“It’s not right that we concentrate only on jueteng in Central Luzon,” he said.
He later tangled with Pimentel when the latter asked him to inhibit himself from the hearings on jueteng.
Pimentel said he was seeking Lapid’s inhibition “not because he’s a Kapampangan but because by his actuation and by his words, he had provided proof that he won’t be able to give the investigation free rein for truth to come out.” He cited reports quoting Lapid as clearing his friend Bong Pineda of Pampanga from any connection with jueteng.
Lapid was not cowed.
“Ako lang ba ang sinasabi ninyong hindi malinis ang kamay? Si Sen. Jinggoy Estrada ho ba ay malinis ang kamay? Si Sen. Ping Lacson po ba ay malinis ang kamay? Kung mag-i-inhibit ako, sino kaya sa magi-imbestiga ang walang jueteng sa kanilang probinsya? Kayo mismo ang nag nagsabing may nag-alok so inyo ng P5,000 a month para masiao!” Lapid retorted.
In August, the two committees ended their inquiry without calling all the identified witnesses and suspected jueteng operators. Oh yes, the two committees didn’t even come out with a joint report on their findings and recommendations.
Lapid the legislator
Except for those conducted on jueteng operations, Lapid was seldom seen in committee hearings. I am sure would have wanted him to attend a hearing of his Bill No. 2640 titled “Promoting Aeroponics Technology in Agricultural Production.”
Lapid’s sudden technical expertise stumped Sen. Edgardo J. Angara, a former agriculture secretary and leading proponent of science, engineering and technology education and expertise.
“I know hydroponics but I’m not conversant with aeroponics,” Angara said.
Unfortunately, Lapid never got to demonstrate his technical expertise in committee or on the floor.
Oh well, he does have one law to his name, The Legal Assistance to the Poor Act, that’s now called the “Lapid Law.” This encourages lawyers and law firms to render pro bono services to poor clients and to get tax deductions of up to 10 percent of their gross income for rendering such services.
If I’m not impressed, this is because he never stood up on the floor to defend the measure. What’s more, the “Lapid Law” is a virtual copy of an archived bill of Sen. Franklin Drilon.