The Day The Senate Turned Into A Cockpit
Legislatures in democracies are nicknamed ‘August chambers’, harking back to olden times when nobles held court in palaces, exclusively holding the reins of governance while their subjects stood in awe at the wisdom and stately behavior of blue bloods.
Influenced as we are by such western constructs, Filipinos are used to having the Senate and the House of Representatives as August chambers with our elected representatives presumably championing our interests.
This was vividly on show yesterday when the Senate convened as a Committee of the Whole to consider the finding that Senator Manny Villar, one time House Speaker and Senate President, should be cited for unethical behavior and conflict of interest over that C-5 road extension project.
True to form, Villar again chickened out of the session.
He left his loyal lieutenants, errr allies, to defend him.
Never mind if they individually, and collectively, dishonored the Senate itself.
Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II:
My name was mentioned in the context that we are ganging up, that this is all political, that we are using insertions, when he (Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano) said in a blanket statement that we had insertions. I say no. I had no insertion on any matter. In fact, I have no insertion, period. Because we’re in the minority! Let alone an insertion for a road to pass through any such property.
Sen. Aquilino ‘Nene’ Pimentel:
Well, well, I am sure that after your marriage, you had some insertions.But that may be different.
That is an affront on my wife (Korina Sanchez), Mr. President!
The Nacionalista Party president and standard bearer deliberately missed the session, preferring to recycle his alibi before reporters:
Senator Manny Villar: Ayoko munang magsalita. Ang ayoko lang yung didiktahan ako kung kelan ako magsasalita at kung ano ang aking sasbaihin. Walang makakapagsabi sa akin kung kelan ako dapat magsalita at kung ano ang sasabihin (I will not speak for the meantime. I cannot be dictated when and what to say).
Anytime naman handa akong sagutin yan pero sa labas, sa tao. Kasi dito sa komite, e wala naman akong makukuhang katarungan ditto (I am always prepared to answer questions in public. I will not be afforded any justice. The Liberal Party leaked the draft report of the Senate committee of the whole that recommended my censure.
The facade of support behind Mr. Villar is starting to crack:
Bayan Muna party list Rep. Satur Ocampo:
Wina-warningan namin sya baka nga maging ganon, kung pababayan nyang mabitin ‘to, kung hindi nya haharapin sa Senado [We are warning him of this possibility if he would let the Senate proceedings hang and he refuses to face it]. “Gagamitin ng ibang parties. Maka-capitalize ng Liberal Party yon. Yung kanilang campaign lang, malinis na gobyerno, wala kaming bahid, hindi kami nagnanakaw, mga ganon, yan patalbog kay Villar eh.
Yun ang single issue na magiging pabigat sa kanya, dapat harapin nya. Yun ang aming advice.
Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros: (on Villar’s “obstructionist” stance on the C5 report)
It is not just unbecoming of a senator, a former Senate president at that, but is also very much unpresidentiable. Nakakahiya na umiiwas ka sa isang kaso na kinasasangkutan mo, lalo na’t tumatakbo ka bilang isang president.
The zarzuela at the Senate will continue today.
But Filipinos should no longer expect anything worthwhile from the show.