Accused and abused

- The Philippine Star

“The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.” So said 18th century Irish politician and philosopher Edmund Burke who was known for his contempt against injustice, abuse of power, and as some analysts and theorists say — individual and generational arrogance. Many Filipinos are well aware that those  people in power are displaying abuse of authority as seen in the way they use their office or positions to inflict “embarrassment” on rivals or foes.

This is actually one of the biggest complaints of those who are being accused of graft, corruption, fraud and similar scandals. One of them happens to be Vice President Jejomar Binay who has been the subject of a Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee investigation that has been ongoing for several months and which according to Senator Antonio Trillanes, could last until May 2015.

Obviously, the vice president was strongly dissuaded by his friends and perhaps even his lawyers from appearing before the Senate inquiry — because it would be just an exercise in futility since the perception is that he has already been pilloried and crucified as far as the senators conducting the hearing are concerned. The Vice President was also told by a spiritual adviser not to engage in a debate with Trillanes, with Dra. Elenita Binay describing the whole exercise as “pointless.”

A Liberal Party supporter who does not want his identity disclosed for obvious reasons told us that some people in authority are also taking advantage and abusing the power of their office because it gives them “additional media mileage that could go a long way in the upcoming 2016 presidential elections.”

The fact is, some have privately expressed nagging doubts about the charges and accusations being leveled not only against VP Binay but others like DOH Secretary-on-leave Enrique Ona and top epidemiologist Dr. Eric Tayag. For instance, the claim of Antonio Trillanes that the vice president conspired with the Magdalo rebels who staged the botched Oakwood mutiny in July 2007 strikes many as quite incredulous, finding the timing of the revelation contrived, if not suspicious. “That’s really a tall tale” was how someone phrased the claim of Trillanes. 

In the case of Secretary Ona, his career has been untainted in the past, which is why the controversy about the alleged anomalous procurement of anti-pneumonia vaccines in 2012 is being taken with a grain of salt, most especially by those in the lower sector who have been benefited by the health programs of the DOH. According to Ona, the department opted to buy pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) 10 rather than PCV 13 because the former was almost one $1 less expensive than the latter. Dr. Eric Tayag is also being implicated in the alleged anomalous purchase, but many are hard pressed to believe that the well-liked health official – known for his passion in implementing DOH campaigns even to the point of dancing – is guilty of the accusations. If anything, there are strong rumors going around the pharmaceutical industry that the PCV controversy is more like a proxy war between rival giant pharmas.

Senate President Franklin Drilon of course was also implicated in the alleged overpricing of the Iloilo Convention Center, but although he was also subjected to a Senate hearing, many noticed the rather “soft” treatment for Drilon by his peers in the Senate. Perhaps it is out of courtesy for the Senate leader – who knows, maybe. But in fairness to both Secretary Babes Singson and Secretary Mon Jimenez, they don’t need the government job. They “made” it a long time ago when they were still in the private sector.

Many well-meaning friends of the VP strongly advised him against appearing before the Senate hearing, reminding him of the treatment that the late Defense Secretary Angie Reyes received from Trillanes. They were all concerned about the vice president being subjected to such disrespect. Even Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Vicente Joyas has commented that those conducting the hearing have lost sight of their mandate in aiding legislation. It has become completely partisan.

Facing the Senate Blue Ribbon is “torture” for many persons. One can’t really blame people if they hesitate to appear because they have seen how those invited as resource persons could end up getting a tongue lashing in the middle of the proceedings. Worse, the uncomfortable moment could be caught on cam, played and replayed in broadcast media or written about in newspapers. Just consider what happened to Tony Tiu whose face and name have become familiar and unfortunately, seems to be stuck with the label of “dummy” after appearing in the Senate hearing about Binay.

In any case, people are getting weary of the telenovela-like (“striptease” is how Rappler put it) probe being directed at the Vice President. Sonny Trillanes and Alan Cayetano are expected to prolong the investigation but when all is said and done, the proper and final venue to find out the real truth about these allegations of plunder and corruption would be the courts.

But then again, we probably won’t get to see these charges resolved soon because of the grindingly slow pace of court litigation. But as an observer pointed out, the reason why the three senators – Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile – are currently detained is because the evidence gathered against them points to “probable cause.”

“Probable cause” is the key operative phrase that has to be established in all these hearings and investigations, whether they are conducted by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee or the DOJ. After all, “even doubtful accusations leave a stain behind them,” as the 17th century British writer and clergyman Thomas Fuller once said.

*      *      *

Email: [email protected]










  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with