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Catharsis

Catharsis
Ronald Roy

A few years ago, I appeared on Destiny Channel’s one-on-one talk show anchored by my good friend Atty. Alan Paguia. His series of questions brought me to give an exposition of corrupt practices among media practitioners, based on my long experience in dealing with them as Sen. Jose J. Roy’s Chief of Staff, and later as the Head of Land Bank’s Public Information Office.
We were nearing the end of the show when, like a bolt of lightning, Paguia shot out: “Who are your top three candidates for the presidency, and why have you chosen them?” Without batting an eyelash I shot back: “In any order, Erap Estrada, Danding Cojuangco, and Ping Lacson”, giving reasons for each choice.
However, it was clear from my tenor that Panfilo Lacson was my top pick, even if I had only one reason for citing him. I said, “Lacson is incredibly allergic to the pork barrel for being a source of graft. I was impressed with his recent privilege speech denouncing the pork barrel and recommending its abolition. He’s just incredible, Alan!”
Former Sen. Lacson is now being eyed by some quarters led by Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano as a credible and logical investigator of the pork barrel scam that now threatens to redefine our democracy — with apologies to Abraham Lincoln — from being a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” to a “government of the solons, by the solons, and for the solons”.
Both chambers of Congress now swirl at the vortex of public scorn and derision, frantically seeking ways of hosing down the conflagration. It is not clear what House Speaker Sonny Belmonte intends to do in this regard, but on the part of the Senate, Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III has stolen thunder by announcing that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee (SBRC) which he chairs would conduct the investigation of the alleged involvement of some of his fellow senators in the pork barrel scam.

TG stressed that the SBRC is not only the most appropriate house body to do the job, but is also expected to discharge what it considers as its primordial duty to do so. One cannot blame Sen. Guingona for having acted swiftly with characteristic decisiveness and authority. I suppose he has correctly reckoned that the committee’s work would be viewed here as partial at the very least, if not headed for a whitewash. Just the same, I’ve always had the highest respect for TG, and I wish him all the best on the daunting task ahead.
Is there a colossal hitch that the SBRC may encounter in its investigative work? Yes, there is, and TG is aware of it: The committee’s report to the Senate on its findings may not produce the needed number of votes to suspend or expel a colleague. The 1987 Constitution explicitly states that a two-thirds vote of all the senators — i.e., sixteen votes — is necessary to suspend or expel a senator.
Alas, not one senator therefore gets to be suspended or expelled if at least 9 senators are recommended to the Senate as a whole for suspension or expulsion! Hmmm… is there a constitutional infirmity here? Shall a wrongdoer be allowed to vote for his own acquittal? This and other ticklish questions must be judiciously answered by the Senate alone, since no appeals may be brought to the Supreme Court because such questions are deemed to be “political questions”.
By the way, the cited constitutional requirement of a two-thirds vote applies to the House of Representatives as well. Verily, both legislative chambers are now struggling not only to uphold their facades of respectability here and abroad, but also to ensure institutional survival.
The question here is: Can the solons discipline themselves in a credible way? No. There is no way they can do so, given the prevailing national mood. And that, my dear Reader, is the big fear: namely, the sovereign citizens’ ugly mood, which may yet lead to confrontational measures like boycott, tax defiance, and other forms of civil disobedience. Is there a bigger fear than pockets of civil disobedience?
Oh yes, there is. A national catastrophe may yet result from a task force recently formed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima. This investigating body, called Inter-agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council ( IAGCO ), consists of 8 members including Commission on Audit ( COA ) Chair Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan.
IAGCO shall zero in on the recently released COA Report showing that, for the period from 2007 to 2009 — repeat: 2007 to 2009 — 82 nongovernment organizations ( NGOs ) received 6.165 billion pesos from TWELVE senators and ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY members of the lower house under their Priority Development Assistance Fund ( PDAF ).
Maracas de Caracas! The 2007-2009 period pertained to the voracious administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo! Nowhere in the premises do I see IAGCO’ s investigation covering P-Noy’s governance from 2010 to 2016, during which period, incidentally, the pork barrel was even much bigger than during her stolen presidency. In any event, expect a lot of foot-dragging by IAGCO in areas where P-Noy and his favorite lackeys will be implicated. No sacred cows, eh?!
The biggest fear therefore comes from a possibly impending backlash from disgruntled countrymen who will have become passionately committed to assassination and revolution, in order to recover their hard-earned money and, most of all, their human dignity and dreams. Indeed, what is perhaps needed is a catharsis of catastrophic proportions.

( https://musingsbyroy.wordpress.com | 09186449517 | @ronald8roy | #musingsbyroy )

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