PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

DRILON'S 'KLEPTOCRACY' EXPOSED AHEAD OF SENATE ILOILO CONVENTION CENTER PROBE 

NOV 12 --An open letter narrating the alleged “kleptocracy” of Senate President Franklin Drilon was sent to senators by a former congressman ahead of the Senate investigation into the reportedly overpriced Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) on Thursday. A copy of the letter by former Iloilo Representative Augusto Syjuco Jr. was sent to reporters by the office of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who was requested by the former lawmaker to have him invited to the blue ribbon hearing on the ICC. INQUIRER.net confirmed through Syjuco’s secretary on the authenticity of the letter entitled “Drilon’s Kleptocracy,” which exposed the Senate president’s alleged brand of “Ilonggo public ‘hulidaps’ that now you see it, now you don’t.”  “Through the use of his position, Drilon brings home government funds, announced these to all and sundry, to get the public credit and adulation, and identifies the projects,” READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Drilon, Cabinet members to face Iloilo Center inquiry 

NOV 12 --Senate President Franklin Drilon and the two Cabinet secretaries implicated in the alleged overpricing of the P700-million Iloilo Convention Center have confirmed their attendance in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry on Thursday. Drilon's media staff confirmed his attendance at the hearing on the alleged overpricing. He said on Monday that he would manifest his intention to inhibit himself from the proceedings but would be open to answering questions from his colleagues as a resource person. The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee said Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson and Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez have confirmed their attendance in the inquiry based on Senate Resolution 906 filed by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. Drilon, Singson and Jimenez were charged with plunder before the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged overpricing. The complainant was former Iloilo Provincial Administrator Manuel Mejorada, a former ally of the Senate President. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO At Senate: A tense moment as Drilon chides Nancy Binay for ‘beating around the bush’

NOV 113 --Tension sliced through the Senate session hall Thursday when Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senator Nancy Binay faced off during a hearing on Thursday over the alleged overpriced construction of the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC). The overpricing allegation was the same issue raised against Binay’s father, Vice President Jejomar Binay in connection with the construction of the Makati City Hall 2 parking building. It started when Binay was asking Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson over the source of funding used for the project, particularly the P100 million that came from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which he heads. “Saan ho galing ang pondong ito?” Binay asked to which Singson said was a request to Department of Budget and Management. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Drilon slams ‘malicious, baseless’ allegations of corruption on Iloilo property

NOV 13 ---Senate President Franklin Drilon faced his colleagues and accuser on Thursday at the start of the investigation into allegations of corruption he was supposed to have committed in the construction of the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC). “To set the record straight, I had nothing to do with the bidding for the project – I did not participate in the constitution of the Bids and Awards Committee; I did not interfere with any part of the bidding process; nor did I nominate or appoint the winning bidder,” said Drilon as he read from a prepared statement. READ FULL REPORT...

(ALSO) Drilon: If Syjuco can prove it, he can have the mansion

NOV 13 --If former Iloilo Representative Augusto Syjuco Jr. can prove that Senate President Franklin Drilon has a mansion in Forbes Park, then “he can have it,” Drilon’s chief of staff said. Lawyer Renato N. Bantug Jr. issued the challenge in response to Syjuco’s allegation that the Senate leader’s stepdaughter, Eduarda Genuino, owned a 1, 542-square-meter mansion worth P50 million in Forbes Park, an enclave for the rich in Makati City. “Syjuco’s allegations have long been debunked, they are old lies that Syjuco has been peddling again and again. Syjuco is fond of calling attention to himself. It is obvious he is rehashing old fabrications to get a piece of the spotlight,” Bantug said in a text message sent to inquirer.net through staff member in Drilon’s office.

(ALSO) Noted: Senate probe of Iloilo center ‘friendly’; Nancy Binay lone opposition Senator attendee  

NOV 13 ---More senators turned up on Thursday at the Senate inquiry into the controversial Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) and sounded more genial to the guests. In a hearing that was replete with references to the Makati City Hall Building II, senators gave Manuel Mejorada all the time to air his allegations of corruption against Senate President Franklin Drilon, proponent of the ICC project, without interrupting him. When Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV confronted Mejorada over his claims that the P700-million ICC was overpriced, he sounded very gentle. “We’re friendly,” Sen. Sergio Osmeña III said, chuckling, after emerging from the four-hour hearing by the blue ribbon committee. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO Times Editorial: From the least trusted to an unproductive Senate 

NOV 14 ---From being the least trusted government institution, the Senate may as well be among the most unproductive establishments in the Philippines. The Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee, basking in camera lights and attention given to it by the media, is bent on pursuing its investigation of Vice President Jejomar Binay for allegedly benefiting from the overpriced construction of a Makati City Hall building. The body has assumed the role of a prosecutor and the court and, in the words of one opposition lawmaker, has discarded the presumption of innocence in dealing with the accused. Worse, the Senate as a body is neglecting its main duty of approving legislative and constitutional reforms. READ FULL EDITORIAL...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Drilon’s ‘kleptocracy’ exposed ahead of Senate Iloilo Convention Center probe {Kleptēs is Greek word for Thief; kratos is for power or rule}


Senate President Franklin Drilon. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, NOVEMBER 17, 2014 (INQUIRER) An open letter narrating the alleged “kleptocracy” of Senate President Franklin Drilon was sent to senators by a former congressman ahead of the Senate investigation into the reportedly overpriced Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) on Thursday.

A copy of the letter by former Iloilo Representative Augusto Syjuco Jr. was sent to reporters by the office of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who was requested by the former lawmaker to have him invited to the blue ribbon hearing on the ICC.

INQUIRER.net confirmed through Syjuco’s secretary on the authenticity of the letter entitled “Drilon’s Kleptocracy,” which exposed the Senate president’s alleged brand of “Ilonggo public ‘hulidaps’ that now you see it, now you don’t.”

“Through the use of his position, Drilon brings home government funds, announced these to all and sundry, to get the public credit and adulation, and identifies the projects,” Syjuco said in his letter.

“He then delegates these funds to be used by whichever Local Government Units (LGUs) or Executive Departments or Agencies for purposes Drilon has directed,” he said.

It was public knowledge, Syjuco said, that it was Drilon who directed the LGUs, departments or agencies on “exactly how the projects will be implemented, who is to win the bidding and who will get the kickbacks (said understandably to be mostly for Drilon’s)

“To complete the circle graft, when things go wrong as they do, Drilon puts on his magical cape of protective invisibility, and claims that he has had nothing to do with the bidding whatsoever. His only role, he says, is that of sourcing funds,” said the former lawmaker.

Syjuco also brought up the 1, 542-square meter Forbes Park Mansion property that Drilon’s step-daughter, Eduarda Genuino, allegedly acquired in 2004 for P50,000.

“Miss Genuino, aged only in her 20s at that time, is a step-daughter of Senator Franklin Drilon. She was a simple wage earner then, and could not on her own produce that amount of money. Did her job pay her enough for her to purchase a P50 million Forbes Park house?” he asked.

“When she acquired this property, she was single and she listed as her address the house of Drilon at 49 Polk Street, North Greenhills, San Juan Metro Manila,” he added.

Many were appalled, Syjuco said, that Drilon could have allegedly corrupted this young and innocent 20-year-old step-daughter from his second wife, who was allegedly teaching her to be “in cahoots with him in consummated money-laundering.”

“This incident would also provide the opportunity for an investigation in aid of legislation regarding the under-the-table hiding of ill-gotten wealth,” Syjuco said.

INQUIRER.net tried to get Drilon’s reaction to Syjuco’s letter but the Senate leader has yet to respond as of posting time. With Marc Cayabyab


FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Drilon, Cabinet members to face Iloilo Center inquiry November 12, 2014 8:04pm 5 14 0 81 Tags: Franklin Drilon , Rogelio Singson

Senate President Franklin Drilon and the two Cabinet secretaries implicated in the alleged overpricing of the P700-million Iloilo Convention Center have confirmed their attendance in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry on Thursday.

Drilon's media staff confirmed his attendance at the hearing on the alleged overpricing. He said on Monday that he would manifest his intention to inhibit himself from the proceedings but would be open to answering questions from his colleagues as a resource person.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee said Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson and Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez have confirmed their attendance in the inquiry based on Senate Resolution 906 filed by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.

Drilon, Singson and Jimenez were charged with plunder before the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged overpricing. The complainant was former Iloilo Provincial Administrator Manuel Mejorada, a former ally of the Senate President.

Another subject of Mejorada's complaint in connection with the convention center, Manuel Lapid, the Chief Operating Officer of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, is on an official trip to the US and won't attend.

Lawyer Guiller Asido, the assistant COO, will represent him in the Senate inquiry.

Senator Teofisto Guingona III, the committee chairman, set the hearing at 10 a.m.

It has been reported that Drilon endorsed the convention center as the recipient of P300 million from the Disbursement Acceleration Program. The DAP was declared by the Supreme Court as partially unconstitutional in July.

The officials have denied any wrongdoing in the construction of the convention center, one of the venues that will be used during the Philippines' hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference Summit in 2015.

Hilmarc's

Other resource persons who have confirmed their attendance in the hearing on Thursday include:

- Mejorada - Engineer Robert Henson, president of Hilmarc's Construction - Engineer Efren Canlas, chairman of Hilmarc's - Dennis Santiago, executive director of the Government Procurement Policy Board - Jose Fabia, commissioner of the Commission on Audit - Rodulfo Ariesga, technical services officer of the COA

Hilmarc's is the contractor of the convention center.

The firm is also the contractor of another allegedly overpriced project, the P2.7-billion Makati City Hall Building II. It is also the subject of another Blue Ribbon inquiry.

A subcommittee is investigating the city hall controversy involving Vice President Jejomar Binay and members of his family. The Binay camp has repeatedly denied the allegations against them.

Respondents

Mejorada in late October filed the charges against the respondents for plunder, malversation of public funds, dishonesty and grave misconduct, and violation of Sections 3(e) and 3(g) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Practices Act.

Mejorada also filed charges against the following:

- DPWH undersecretaries Jaime Pacanan and Romeo Momo, - DPWH regional director Edilberto Tayao, - DPWH Bids and Awards Committee chairman Marilyn Celiz, - W.V. Coscoluella and Associates, represented by President William Coscolluela, and - Hilmarc's Construction Co., represented by its president, Engr. Efren Canlas.

Meanwhile, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has yet to come up with a decision on the request of former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco that he be allowed to participate in the inquiry.

Syjuco previously filed complaints for plunder against Drilon, who also hails from the province. —Rouchelle R. Dinglasan/NB/KBK, GMA News


FROM THE INQUIRER

A tense moment as Drilon chides Binay for ‘beating around the bush’ Maila Ager
@inquirerdotnet INQUIRER.net 2:52 PM | Thursday, November 13th, 2014


NANCY BINAY AND DRILON

MANILA, Philippines – Tension sliced through the Senate session hall Thursday when Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senator Nancy Binay faced off during a hearing on Thursday over the alleged overpriced construction of the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC).

The overpricing allegation was the same issue raised against Binay’s father, Vice President Jejomar Binay in connection with the construction of the Makati City Hall 2 parking building.

It started when Binay was asking Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson over the source of funding used for the project, particularly the P100 million that came from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which he heads.

“Saan ho galing ang pondong ito?” Binay asked to which Singson said was a request to Department of Budget and Management.

Binay then asked if it was Singson, who requested the budget from the DBM to which the DPWH answered in the affirmative.

But when the lady senator again asked if there was any legislator who endorsed the budget for the project, Drilon butted in and said: “Why doesn’t my colleague ask me what my role in funding here..? Don’t beat around the bush.”

Feeling the tension, Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the committee, decided to suspend the hearing. And when it resumed, Guingona told the committee that Binay would directly question the Senate leader.

“Did you request funding for this project?” Binay asked Drilon, an ally of President Benigno Aquino III and partymate in the Liberal Party.

“Yes. I requested funding for this project. How it was sourced in the GAA is something that I have no control over…Yes, I’m proud to say that I requested for funding for this project but did not participate in any manner in the bidding, in the choice of the contractor, in supplying the materials for this project. Yes, I did request for funding,” said Drilon.

It was also possible, he said, that the funding could have come from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

“It could have come from DAP, yes, yes it could have come from DAP. What’s important is that at that time that there was DAP, there’s a presumption of legality because it has not been declared unconstitutional at that point and in this particular case, what’s important is meron ho bang ninakaw na pera dito? DAP man o pork barrel man, may ebidensya ba na may kumita dito? E tatlong oras na tayong nagme-meeting dito wala pa kayong naririnig kung paano po ninakaw ang pera dito…” Drilon said, still responding to Binay’s queries.

And when Binay directed again the same question on funding to Singson, Drilon again cut her off, saying: “Ako na nga ang nagsabi that I requested for funding…”


FROM THE INQUIRER

Drilon slams ‘malicious, baseless’ allegations of corruption on Iloilo property
Maila Ager @inquirerdotnet
INQUIRER.net 10:43 AM | Thursday, November 13th, 2014


EXCITABLE DRILON

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Franklin Drilon faced his colleagues and accuser on Thursday at the start of the investigation into allegations of corruption he was supposed to have committed in the construction of the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC).

“To set the record straight, I had nothing to do with the bidding for the project – I did not participate in the constitution of the Bids and Awards Committee; I did not interfere with any part of the bidding process; nor did I nominate or appoint the winning bidder,” said Drilon as he read from a prepared statement.

“I did not even know, nor did I have any interest in, the identity of the winning bidder, until I was informed by the DPWH after the contract had already been awarded. Neither did I recommend any supplier or a single worker, in the construction of the project. The preparation or conduct of the bidding, its award, or its implementation was wholly undertaken by DPWH and DOT,” he said.

DPWH is the Department of Public Works and Highways while DOT is Department of Tourism.

Former provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada and former Congressman Augusto Syjuco Jr. have accused Drilon of alleged corruption. Syjuco claimed in an open letter he sent to senators ahead of Thursday’s investigation that the ICC was overpriced.

The hearing by the committee headed by Senator Teofisto Guingona III started past 10 a.m.

“I also vehemently deny the accusation that I caused the ICC Project to be overpriced. The ICC Project is not overpriced. This is supported by the rigorous processes and documentation of the DPWH, as verified and counter-checked by the independent processes and documentation of the DOT through the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority or TIEZA.”

“In fact, let me just highlight that I did not even participate in determining the approved budget for the ICC Project, which is properly within the competence of the implementing agency, the DPWH and the DOT in this case,” said the Senate leader.

“I most strongly deny the baseless and malicious allegations that I plundered the coffers of government, that I malversed public funds, and that I committed graft and corrupt acts in relation to the ICC project,” he added.

Drilon claimed that on the contrary because of his initiative, the government through the DOT acquired through donation, a 17,371 square-meter prime property, worth at least P521 million for the ICC site.

He said the lot was donated by Megaworld Property Inc. to the DOT on Nov. 13, 2012 while the architect and engineering design prepared by W.V Coscolleula and Associates was also donated to the government.

Thus, the Senate leader said, the government did not spend anything for the land and the architectural services for the ICC Project.

“In defense of my name, my honor and my family, I specifically and categorically deny the baseless, speculative, and wild allegations of Mr. Mejorada. I did not commit any wrongdoing in the construction of Iloilo Convention Center,” said Drilon.

Before ending his statement, Drilon announced that he would inhibit from the investigation but would make himself available to answer questions after hearing the statements of other resource persons.

The hearing was prompted by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s resolution, seeking an inquiry into the alleged anomalous transactions involving multibillions of pesos in public funds between Hilmarc’s Construction Corp. and certain local government units.

The resolution specifically cited various news reports that the two-story ICC, which reportedly cost a total of P747 million, was overpriced by P531 million. The fund used for the project was also reportedly sourced out of Drilon’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) also known as “pork barrel” fund in 2012 and through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) in 2013.

The issue was also the subject of a complaint filed at the Office of the Ombudsman by Mejorada against Drilon and other officials involved in the construction of the project.

But the Senate leader has repeatedly denied the allegation, saying it was “malicious” and “baseless” because it was coming from Mejorada, who he said he fired as consultant.

Aside from Drilon, the committee also invited other resource persons like Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., Robert Henson, president of Hilmarc’s, and Mejorada, among others.


FROM THE INQUIRER

Drilon: If Syjuco can prove it, he can have the mansion Maila Ager @inquirerdotnet INQUIRER.net 7:11 AM | Thursday, November 13th, 2014


SYJUCO AND DRILON

MANILA, Philippines—If former Iloilo Representative Augusto Syjuco Jr. can prove that Senate President Franklin Drilon has a mansion in Forbes Park, then “he can have it,” Drilon’s chief of staff said.

Lawyer Renato N. Bantug Jr. issued the challenge in response to Syjuco’s allegation that the Senate leader’s stepdaughter, Eduarda Genuino, owned a 1, 542-square-meter mansion worth P50 million in Forbes Park, an enclave for the rich in Makati City.

“Syjuco’s allegations have long been debunked, they are old lies that Syjuco has been peddling again and again. Syjuco is fond of calling attention to himself. It is obvious he is rehashing old fabrications to get a piece of the spotlight,” Bantug said in a text message sent to inquirer.net through staff member in Drilon’s office.

“If Syjuco can definitely prove that Senator Drilon owns a mansion in Forbes Park, he can have it,” he said.

The alleged property was only one of the allegations enumerated by the former lawmaker against Drilon in an open letter he sent to senators ahead of Thursday’s investigation into the allegedly overpriced Iloilo Convention Center (ICC), a which was the Senate leader’s pet project.

“Miss Genuino, aged only in her 20s at that time, is a stepdaughter of Senator Franklin Drilon. She was a simple wage earner then, and could not on her own produce that amount of money. Did her job pay her enough for her to purchase a P50-million Forbes Park house?” Syjuco said.

“When she acquired this property, she was single and she listed as her address the house of Drilon at 49 Polk Street, North Greenhills, San Juan Metro Manila,” he added.

But instead of fabricating stories, Bantug said Syjuco should just face and answer the serious charges lodged against him when he was still the head of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).

“Syjuco, who is out on bail, having been the subject of various graft cases filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in the Sandiganbayan, should instead face and answer the serious charges against him in connection with anomalous transactions and overpricing of equipment during his stint at Tesda,” Drilon’s lawyer said.


FROM THE INQUIRER

Noted: Senate probe of Iloilo center vs Senate President ‘friendly’


Former provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada. NOY MORCOSO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines–More senators turned up on Thursday at the Senate inquiry into the controversial Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) and sounded more genial to the guests.

In a hearing that was replete with references to the Makati City Hall Building II, senators gave Manuel Mejorada all the time to air his allegations of corruption against Senate President Franklin Drilon, proponent of the ICC project, without interrupting him.

When Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV confronted Mejorada over his claims that the P700-million ICC was overpriced, he sounded very gentle.

“We’re friendly,” Sen. Sergio Osmeña III said, chuckling, after emerging from the four-hour hearing by the blue ribbon committee.

It was Mejorada who filed a plunder complaint against Drilon in the Office of the Ombudsman for the alleged ICC overprice.

In the blue ribbon subcommittee hearing on the Makati car park, Senators Trillanes, Alan Peter Cayetano and Aquilino Pimentel III sounded tough while posing questions to resource persons.

Tiu complaint

At one hearing, under tough grilling by Cayetano, businessman Antonio Tiu complained that he was being treated like an accused.

Tiu has come forward to claim ownership of 150 hectares of the P1.2-billion, 350-hectare high-end farm in Rosario, Batangas province, allegedly owned by Vice President Jejomar Binay.

At Thursday’s hearing on ICC, the resource persons as well as the senators could not help but make references to the allegedly overpriced P2.28-billion car park.

The reason: Both the first phase of ICC and the Makati car park have the same contractor, Hilmarc’s Construction Corp.

Positive light

Unlike the Makati car park hearing, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson spoke of Hilmarc’s in a positive light.

After two failed bidding exercises, Hilmarc’s submitted the lowest bid in a negotiated procurement, P479 million, after “value reengineering” to reduce the cost of the project, Singson said.

And precisely because of this, the contract was awarded to Hilmarc’s, he said.

“We’re happy with their performance,” Singson said in an interview after the hearing. “We can defend their numbers, we can defend what they’ve done.”

In the Makati car park hearings, Hilmarc’s was derided as the favored contractor of the Makati city government, under the Binays.

Hilmarc’s also drew praises from Trillanes over its performance in the ICC project.

“We can see here that the problem here is the Makati officials,” he said.

Transparent

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said the fact that senators were able to ask the Senate President questions showed that the blue ribbon committee hearing on the alleged overpricing of ICC was transparent.

Amid observations that the hearing on the pet project of Drilon was friendly or was intended to clear Drilon, Guingona said the people could judge for themselves how the hearing went since it was a public proceeding.

But he pointed out that Drilon, who had inhibited himself from the hearing, sat as resource person in the hearing and took questions from colleagues, including opposition Sen. Nancy Binay.

He said he had not seen a similar instance in the past.

“Where else have you seen an exchange, a question and answer between the Senate President and a senator? That goes to show the process is very transparent. There is nothing secret here and we bring everything out,” he told reporters.

Lone opposition senator

Sen. Nancy Binay was the lone opposition senator who attended the hearing. Aside from the funding source, she sought details on the audit of the project and on the donation of the land for ICC.

Binay has been critical of the blue ribbon subcommittee investigation of alleged irregularities in Makati City where her father, the Vice President, and brother, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay, have been implicated. She has inhibited herself from the subcommittee hearings.

Also joining the Iloilo project inquiry was Sen. Sonny Angara.

Drilon criticized Mejorada, his former employee, for supposedly making assertions without any proof.

Guingona said he had given all invited resource persons the chance to present their explanations and to respond to any statements or questions directed at them.

“You’ve seen that we’ve treated everybody equally and with the proper respect. Everybody got the chance to speak,” he said.

Guingona added that he would allow another Drilon critic, former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco, to speak at the next hearing on the ICC issue.

But he also said he would rather focus first on the ICC issue.


MANILA TIMES EDITORIAL

Unproductive Senate By Manila Standard Today | Nov. 14, 2014 at 12:01am

From being the least trusted government institution, the Senate may as well be among the most unproductive establishments in the Philippines.

The Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee, basking in camera lights and attention given to it by the media, is bent on pursuing its investigation of Vice President Jejomar Binay for allegedly benefiting from the overpriced construction of a Makati City Hall building.

The body has assumed the role of a prosecutor and the court and, in the words of one opposition lawmaker, has discarded the presumption of innocence in dealing with the accused. Worse, the Senate as a body is neglecting its main duty of approving legislative and constitutional reforms.

The allies of President Aquino, especially those envious of Mr. Binay’s popularity in the presidential race, are enjoying the Senate circus, but the Chief Executive may not be all for it.

President Aquino nudged Senate President Franklin Drilon, saying he wished the Senate investigation on Mr. Binay would conclude soon so legislators could focus on pressing issues. The President even reminded the legislators that they also had obligations to the people, aside from conducting such investigations.

The President noted that a number of bills were pending before the Congress, among them the fiscal rationalization bill, the military pension system, the Build-Operate-Transfer Law, the supplemental budget and the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The Senate and Congress as whole, indeed, have more pressing matters to attend to than vilifying Mr. Binay, the leader of the opposition. The Bangsamoro Basic Law, for one, should take precedence over the Senate witch hunt to restore peace and order in Mindanao and alleviate poverty in the island.

It will not be, thus, surprising if the Senate sinks further in the next survey of the Philippine Trust Index. The Senate was the least trusted government institution with only 7 percent of the general public and 4 percent of “the informed public” expressing trust in it. A separate production index survey on government institutions, if there is one, will likely show similar results.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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