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September 19, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Ronald Roy — 2012 September 19

Over a dozen of this column’s readers threw garbage at Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago for her manner in trying to nail newly resigned DILG Undersecretary Rico E. Puno on a wide array of bristling questions which tended to implicate Pres. Noynoy Aquino to criminal activities, such as related to jueteng, illegal logging, prohibited drugs, and an aborted overpriced M14 assault rifles transaction.

A senate hearing was convened last Sept. 14 by Santiago’s Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Laws, despite questions of its validity, and despite the facts that only two other committee members, Koko Pimentel and Alan Peter Cayetano, were present, and that some cabinet members led by Mar Roxas who had been invited did not attend.

Santiago must have known about the infirmity of the proceedings she had planned to launch against Puno, but in her characteristically unflinching way, she got them going anyway despite three breaches namely: her committee had no jurisdiction, she had not delivered a prior privilege speech relevant to her intended inquiry, and only the Rules and the Blue Ribbon committees could start investigations motu propio, i.e., on their respective initiatives.

But then, it was not at all unexpected that she defied the usual order of things because, well, she is the known renegade among her conventional peers in the upper chamber—a distinctiveness that makes her truly sui generis, whose colorful utterances almost always invite jeers or, depending on the listeners’ partisan predisposition or mood, cheers, such as the classic: “Before your very eyes, I shall blast my brains out” her forefinger and thumb in mock depiction of a sidearm pointed at her temple!

Neither was it unforeseen that the lady senator was, again, jeered by most of this column’s readers (12 out of 15, or 80%) whose sentiments must have been stirred by the sight of an overbearing senatorial termagant pouncing on an easy prey, whose resignation from office she had earlier caused, and whose straightforward and meek demeanor under her inquisitorial artillery all but made him look not only unjustly badgered, but… maracas de Caracas… innocent!

Of course we may never know if the cool-as-a-cucumber Mr. Puno has gotten away with playacting deserving of a FAMAS nomination, but, for the moment, it seems that more and more people are now asking how the good senator got to be elected in the first place, and what a total embarrassment she might pose for the country the moment she’s called to take her seat as a member of the august International Criminal Court.

To be sure, my purpose here is not to degrade the lady senator. Rather, it is to reflect how my readers rate her as their representative in the senate. Personally, since I consider her to be a capable legislator, lawyer and pedagogue, I have listed down some of her positive traits, as follows: Learned, Interesting, Transparent (having thoughts or feelings that are easily perceived), Nit-picking (another term for fault-finding, which good investigators and cross-examiners usually do), Unique, and Intrepid (fearless).

The foregoing characteristics come as a result of a challenge from an obvious Santiago-basher, Sandra Agcaoili, for me to cite some nice things about the lady from Iloilo who, in her words, “merits nothing less than impeachment.”

Firstly, Sandra, a senator is not an impeachable official. He can however be reprimanded, suspended or even expelled, but only by the Senate Ethics Committee. A displeased electorate may likewise spurn any run he may later attempt for public office.

Secondly, Sandra, for your ready reference, I have produced an acronym for the positive traits you asked me to ascribe to the senator. Unfortunately, the only available acronym turns out to be INUTIL (Interesting, Nit-picking Unique, Transparent, Intrepid and Learned) which sounds awfully denigratory in the vernacular sense, since I can never ever say “Si Miriam ay inutil”.

So, let me then add an E (from “Ebullient,” which means cheerful and energetic) to produce the English acronym INUTILE, in reference to the senator’s efforts which proved to be “pointless” in pinning down Puno. Ahh,, Siguro naman hindi na magagalit sa akin si señora senadora, ha!?

From where I sit, Jorge (Ysmael), Sen. Santiago’s resort to retaliation against the cabinet people, Mar Roxas particularly, who snubbed her invitation to her committee hearing is another problem she has created for herself. It is her prerogative to be exceedingly unpopular by taking those snobs to task before the Commission on Appointments.

But the real issue is not so much how she should use her prerogatives as how we should use ours in our choice of local government and national leaders. In light of the larger picture, it seems we will never learn to choose the right public servants—if the latest survey of the leading twelve 2013 senatorial bets is any indication.

Jorge, scan the list and behold the usual familiar faces with name recall! Repeat: familiar faces with name recall! Alas, this is how we have been exercising our suffrage since time immemorial: electing familiar faces with name recall!

It is horrifyingly stupid not to choose from numerous qualified yet unfamiliar faces with no name recall! It’s simply asinine to keep on capitulating to or falling for Hobson’s choice (one of taking what is available or nothing at all; so named after Thomas Hobson, a 16th century Cambridge carrier who hired out horses, giving the customer the “choice” of the one nearest the door or none at all).

But then, if anyone attempted to change things within the existing electoral system, wouldn’t the experiment prove to be… inutile?

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