PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

BINAY RESPECTS AQUINO VIEW OF SENATE PROBE; Vice president also apologizes to KBP for backing out of televised debate

Vice President Jejomar Binay expressed appreciation for President Benigno Aquino III’s remarks that the Senate inquiry into the alleged irregularities involving the Vice President has been taking too long. “If that’s the statement of the President, we respect that,” Binay said when sought for his reaction to the President’s remarks. Aquino, at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, said he hoped all evidence against Binay would be presented immediately so that those liable could be charged and “we can all focus and go back to our other work.”ť --Binay said his decision was prompted by a media interview on November 9 wherein he was asked by a reporter to comment on Trillanes “preparing and even getting a tutor”ť for their debate. “If that’s the case, I’d rather that it not push through. I always had that feeling that, you know, magkakabaliktaran, pag dating nang huli (the opposite will come out in the end),”ť said Binay, a litigation lawyer before he entered politics. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: VP camp: Senate probe costs $50 M per hearing; No basis for this - Guingona

NOV 13 ---Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona III, chairman of the blue ribbon committee, denied the allegation. "It has no basis. Whenever we conduct BRC hearings, it is scheduled on regular working day and no extraordinary funds were spent," Guingona told GMA News Online in a text message.

ALSO: VP camp downplays death threat on Cayetano 

NOV 14 --PHOTO: CAYETANO AND TRILLANES --Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Wednesday said he expects the Vice President Jejomar Binay will have him killed or jailed should he become president in 2016: -- The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay has dismissed the alleged threat on the life of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, saying the Senate prober’s “outrageous story line” was aimed at spicing the dwindling public interest on the blue ribbon subcommittee inquiry on the Makati City Hall Building II. “Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano talks about receiving a death threat. United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim president, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco yesterday said he believes that when President Aquino said he wanted the Senate to end its “strip tease” investigation on the Makati project, the members of the blue ribbon subcommittee would not allow the Chief Executive to be a showstopper. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Senate decides to suspend probes to focus on national budget 

NOV 16 ---When the Senate begins plenary deliberations on Wednesday on the national budget for 2015, all committee hearings are expected to grind to a halt. But before this, there will be another hearing on Tuesday of the three-member Senate blue ribbon subcommittee on alleged corruption in Makati City when Vice President Jejomar Binay was mayor there, centering this time on claims the science high school was overpriced, just like the Makati City Hall Building II. After that, the subcommittee’s next hearing is expected to be held after the Senate has approved the 2015 budget, according to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV who has vowed to pursue the inquiry until April. Under the Senate rules, no committee hearings are allowed while the plenary is tackling the budget. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Senators inspect Makati school building   

NOV 16 ---SIT IN: Sens. Antonio Trillanes IV and Aquilino Pimentel III talk to reporters during an inspection of new Makati Science High School Building yesterday. ERNIE PEŃAREDONDO MANILA, Philippines - Members of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee inspected the newly constructed Makati Science High School (MSHS) building but could not come up with a conclusion yet on whether it is overpriced. Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, chairman of the subcommittee, and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV conducted the ocular inspection, with Makati City administrator Eleno Mendoza and engineer Ramon Zoleta present on the side of the city government of Makati and principal Evangelina Neri Apolinario for MSHS. After inspecting all the 10 floors and basement of the school building, Pimentel said that he cannot make any judgments yet about the issue of overpricing because “nobody should make a judgment based on an ocular inspection alone.” But he admitted that based on what he saw, the building looked satisfactory and stable. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Senate rapped for bias in Binay, Drilon probes 

NOV 16 --UNA: SOLONS TURNED FRIENDLY IN ICC INQUIRY --The stark contrast between Senate probers’ treatment of the inquiry on the Makati City Hall Building II which sought to pin irregularities on Vice President Jejomar Binay and the investigation on Senate President Franklin Drilon’s pet project, the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC), exposes the partisan considerations of both proceedings, the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) said in a statement. UNA interim president Toby Tiangco criticized Senate administration allies who he said had a change in demeanor in the Senate investigation of the controversial ICC last week compared to the Makati City Hall Building II probe.“Why the change in demeanor? Is it because the one on the ‘hot seat’ is an ally?” Tiangco said.Administration allies gave Drilon an easy time at the hearing, in contrast to the treatment of some resource persons in the Makati building probe, Tiangco said. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO Times Opinion: Where have all the senators gone? 

Above, the Senate 2nd Congress (1950-53). Below, Senate 16th Congress (2013-2016) senators telling a congressman he is not welcome in the hearing ---I mean the real senators as we have known them in the past, who lived up to the etymology of the term (from Latin senex, old man), and who embodied the ancient tradition of the Council of Elders of selfless people who had no other interest or motive but to share their wisdom accumulated over decades to ensure the welfare of their community. Compared to our senators now, the time of real senators even seems to be a mythical age of political titans. In the 1930s there were the likes of Claro M. Recto, who challenged the ideological hegemony of US colonialism, and Senate President Manuel Quezon, whose skill in running circles around the colonizers is revealed by new historiography.READ THE FULL COLUMN...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Binay ‘respects’ Aquino’s view of Senate probe

Vice president also apologizes to KBP for backing out of televised debate


Vice President Jejomar Binay. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

TAGAYTAY CITY, NOVEMBER 17, 2014 (INQUIRER) Maricar Cinco @inquirerdotnet - Vice President Jejomar Binay expressed appreciation for President Benigno Aquino III’s remarks that the Senate inquiry into the alleged irregularities involving the Vice President has been taking too long.

“If that’s the statement of the President, we respect that,” Binay said when sought for his reaction to the President’s remarks.

Aquino, at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, said he hoped all evidence against Binay would be presented immediately so that those liable could be charged and “we can all focus and go back to our other work.”ť

The Palace later clarified that this did not mean that Aquino intended to meddle into the Senate inquiry, which Senator Aquilino Pimentel III has warned against.

Binay, when asked by reporters if he appreciated the President’s words, replied: “certainly.”ť

Binay on Thursday visited several Cavite towns for the inauguration of the Office of Senior Citizens’ Affairs facilities and the distribution of medical equipment and wheelchairs.


"Bilang tulay ng mga henerasyon, ang mga nakatatanda ang gabay ng kasalukuyan sa landas patungo sa hinaharap at kaunlaran. Kaya dapat lamang pangalagaan natin sila bilang di-matatawarang yaman ng bayan" JOJO BINAY. SOURCE: JOJO BINAY'S FACEBOOK

He was accompanied by Cavite Gov. Juanito Victor “Jonvic”ť Remulla, who is also the vice president’s spokesperson, and Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla.

In a separate interview, Remulla said Aquino’s remarks were a mere “suggestion and a message of unity.”ť

“I think that the President also feels that all this time the Senate spends (in the investigation) should be spent instead for the country’s welfare and not to bring down some people,” Remulla said.

He said the Senate spent P50 million for each day in the conduct of the hearing, an amount that could be used instead to rebuild the houses destroyed by supertyphoon Yolanda in the Visayas.

He said Binay was “thankful to the president for still believing in (Binay’s) service and performance.”ť

Amid the controversies, Binay seemed to be in a good mood Thursday as he told jokes when he addressed the senior citizens in Alfonso and General Emilio Aguinaldo towns.

He even took extra effort to walk to the house of Ceferina Monteverde in Alfonso to personally meet and greet the 108-year-old woman said to be the oldest in the town.

Binay, amazed by Monteverde’s age, handed the woman a P1,000 bill.

In every town, Binay was introduced as the “next president.” He proceeded to the towns of Maragondon and General Trias in the afternoon for a similar program.

But the Vice President remained evasive to political questions and referred the media instead to Remulla.

In reaction to the claims of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV about the Vice President’s supposed participation in the 2007 coup d’ etat plot, Remulla said Binay was indeed “invited but declined when (Binay) realized that nothing good would come out of it.”ť


PHOTO TAKEN LAST AUGUST 13, 2003: Investigation of failed Philippine coup attempt. Philippine Navy Lieutenant Antonio Trillanes IV appears for the first time before the pact-finding commission tasked to investigate the failed July 27 coup attempt at the general military headquarters in Manila August 13, 2003. Trillanes was one of the leaders of the failed coup attempt against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.[Reuters]

Trillanes, one of the senators at the forefront of the investigation, said Binay’s backing out of their debate was no surprise to him since Binay also withdrew his support to the Magdalo soldiers in the so-called Manila Peninsula siege.

Remulla said Binay had no participation at all in the attempt to launch a coup d’ etat.

“We just learned that Senator Trillanes would come out with photos of the Magdalo troops at the Vice President’s piggery,”

Remulla said, although he did not specify the piggery’s location.

Remulla went on to say that those soldiers were the mutineers, who after losing their jobs, sought Binay’s help. The failed mutineers were then hired as caretakers at Binay’s piggery, Remulla said.

“This (as would be shown on the pictures) happened after the fact. Not before (the Manila) Peninsula siege,” he said.

But to everyone’s surprise, the Vice President decided to take his lunch with members of the Kapisanan ng Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KPB), who were having a three-day conference at the Taal Vista hotel, here.

Binay arrived at the conference as Sen. Grace Poe, who was the conference’s keynote speaker, was towards the end of her speech.

KBP organizers also seemed surprised when the Vice President was introduced on stage.

“I hope I will not be treated as a gatecrasher because I was not part of the (KBP’s) program,” Binay later told the Inquirer.

Remulla said it was also a coincidence that Poe, who has been eyed by political parties as a plausible vice presidential candidate, was there.

Binay explained why he backed out of his scheduled debate with Trillanes on the corruption allegations that the senator has raised against the vice president.

“This is a formal apology to the members of the KBP. I know that you had prepared for this, you had informed your members there would be such a thing (debate),” he said.

Binay said his decision was prompted by a media interview on November 9 wherein he was asked by a reporter to comment on Trillanes “preparing and even getting a tutor”ť for their debate.

“If that’s the case, I’d rather that it not push through. I always had that feeling that, you know, magkakabaliktaran, pag dating nang huli (the opposite will come out in the end),”ť said Binay, a litigation lawyer before he entered politics.

He called Trillanes an “opportunist.”ť

“Alam naman nyang kawawa ako sa kanya, e pinag-gigiitan na kami ay magharap. So para wala nang ganung conclusion pa, wala na, ayoko na,” he said. (He knew I will end up the loser here. Everyone was insisting that we should come face to face. To avoid that conclusion, I decided against the [debate].)

To the members of the media, “don’t worry, even if sometimes it’s hurting, you’re just doing your jobs,” Binay said.

KBP Herman Basbano said the vice president made a short notice about his arrival at the conference

“It’s the Vice President asking for it (apology), who are we not to (accept)?” he said.


FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

VP Binay camp: Senate probe costs P50M for every hearing By ROUCHELLE DINGLASAN, GMA NewsNovember 13, 2014 9:56pm


GUINGONA

The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay on Thursday said that the Senate was spending P50 million for every hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Subcommittee looking into the alleged corrupt activities of the second highest elected official in the country.

"Ang Senado po ay gumagastos ng P50 million a day para mag-operate sa bawat hearing," Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla told reporters.

"Kung they spend another 100 days, that's...P5 billion ang kailangan nilang gastusin para lang sa imbestigasyon na 'to. Hindi ba dapat andami nating kayang tulungan sa P50 million a day?" Remulla added.

Remulla, however, wasn't able to elaborate on his allegation.

Calls and text messages weren't immediately returned.

Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona III, chairman of the blue ribbon committee, denied the allegation.

"It has no basis. Whenever we conduct BRC hearings, it is scheduled on regular working day and no extraordinary funds were spent," Guingona told GMA News Online in a text message.

"We do not spend additional pay for the salaries of staff and employees and no extra payment for the electricity because that is the normal functions of the Senate," he said.

Guingona added that the Senate was also not paying for live media coverage. "We always practice prudent spending of public funds." —NB, GMA News


FROM THE TRIBUNE

VP camp downplays death threat on Cayetano Written by Charlie V. Manalo Friday, 14 November 2014 00:00


FROM PHILSTAR- Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday night claimed receiving a death threat. In a statement released by the office of the senator, it said a staff received the death threat at around 5 p.m. "The Caller said: 'Paki sabi kay Senator Alan, isang bala lang siya pag di sya nanahimik,'" the office of the senator said. It siad the call was reported to the Senate Office of Sergeant-at-Arms and the Senate police. Earlier, Sen. Antonio Trillanes said in media interviews that Vice President Jejomar Binay might have him killed for releasing proofs of his alleged illegal wealth. He said last he expects the Vice President Jejomar Binay will have him killed or jailed should he become president in 2016 .PHILSTAR NNOVEMBER 12, 2014

The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay has dismissed the alleged threat on the life of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, saying the Senate prober’s “outrageous story line” was aimed at spicing the dwindling public interest on the blue ribbon subcommittee inquiry on the Makati City Hall Building II.

“Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano talks about receiving a death threat. That’s an old story. What will he say next? That he got a love letter from me or that I was proposing a romantic relationship to him?” United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim president, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco yesterday noted.

He said he believes that when President Aquino said he wanted the Senate to end its “strip tease” investigation on the Makati project, the members of the blue ribbon subcommittee would not allow the Chief Executive to be a showstopper.

Tiangco added there are senators who are “frustrated telenovela script writers.”

According to the UNA official, “the script Cayetano and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV are trying to sell to the public has now shifted from a catch-all fantasy drama to an action-oriented Wild West plot.”

“Senator Trillanes for his part says he fears for his life once VP Binay becomes president... We have to remind Trillanes that he is the one with a history of violent, reckless and erratic behavior,” Tiangco said.

He noted that aside from Oakwood and Manila Peninsula siege, Trillanes has been linked to bombing attempts and strafing of civilian’s houses.

“What Cayetano and Trillanes are doing shows desperation. They are trying to court sympathy because they realize that the public is on to their scheme. But the public knows they have no proof to their allegations against Vice President Binay,” Tiangco said.

Vice presidential spokesman for political affairs and Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, for his part, said Binay gave jobs, not firearms as Trillanes insists, to Magdalo soldiers at Makati City Hall and at his piggery in Rosario, Batangas, after the failed Oakwood mutiny and Manila Peninsula takeover.

This would explain their presence in Batangas, said Remulla as he debunked Trillanes’ claims of the Vice President’s involvement in the failed siege.

“After the failed coup attempt at Oakwood and (Manila) Peninsula, the soldiers who were affected because of what they did asked for help and the Vice President helped them by giving them jobs,” he added.

Remulla said Binay’s camp was apprised of reports that Trillanes plans to release alleged photos of Magdalo soldiers in the piggery.

He also reiterated that the Vice President did not play any part in the planning of the failed coup attempt, adding Binay was asked to participate but he declined.
|
The Cavite governor also denied Trillanes’ claim that the arms used for the siege would not have been smuggled without the help of the Makati City government.

Meanwhile, Binay extended his formal apology to members of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) for not pushing through with the planned debate with Trillanes.

“This is a formal apology to the members of KBP. I know you have prepared for this, you have prepared your members if there would be such a thing,” Binay said.

Speaking at the KBP’s 40th top-level management conference in Cavite, Binay said he did not like how Trillanes was trying to portray himself as an underdog.

The Vice President also clarified that he made the decision because he did not want to be accused of having an unfair advantage over Trillanes.

Trillanes has earlier claimed he would be at a disadvantage in a debate with Binay because of the latter’s more than 30 years experience as a public servant and human rights lawyer.

“I always had that feeling that there will be reversal in the end,” Binay said.

Binay had challenged Trillanes in a debate after the senator kept on challenging him to attend the Senate inquiry into the alleged overpriced Makati building project.


FROM THE INQUIRER

Senate decides to suspend probes to focus on national budget Leila B. Salaverria @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:37 PM | Sunday, November 16th, 2014


SENATOR TRILLANES AND VP BINAY

MANILA, Philippines – When the Senate begins plenary deliberations on Wednesday on the national budget for 2015, all committee hearings are expected to grind to a halt.

But before this, there will be another hearing on Tuesday of the three-member Senate blue ribbon subcommittee on alleged corruption in Makati City when Vice President Jejomar Binay was mayor there, centering this time on claims the science high school was overpriced, just like the Makati City Hall Building II.

After that, the subcommittee’s next hearing is expected to be held after the Senate has approved the 2015 budget, according to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV who has vowed to pursue the inquiry until April.

Under the Senate rules, no committee hearings are allowed while the plenary is tackling the budget.

The Senate will formally receive the House of Representatives’ version of the 2015 General Appropriations Act today. It will be sponsored on the floor on Tuesday afternoon, according to Sen. Francis Escudero, chair of the Senate finance committee.

Based on the schedule of plenary deliberations on Wednesday, the Senate will first tackle the general principles of the budget, to be followed by the budgets of the National Economic and Development Authority, the Joint Legislative-Executive Council, the Department of Finance, the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Education.

The last day of plenary deliberations is on Nov. 25, after which the Senate is expected to vote on the 2015 budget bill.

Escudero earlier said that for committee hearings to be held while the plenary has been deliberating on the budget, an exemption must be sought from the rules committee.

But Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said last week that he did not think an exemption would be given for the subcommittee hearings on Makati City issues.

If the subcommittee is allowed to hold hearings during budget deliberations, other committees must be given the same privilege as well.

“So as the chair of the committee on rules, I will say that either we allow all or allow no one [to hold a hearing]. And I think what would prevail is not to allow committee hearings, because the budget is very important for the country,” Cayetano said.

But he also said senators could ask questions on Makati issues when the budget of concerned agencies are taken up. For instance, he said, they could ask the Department of Agrarian Reform about its probe of the vast Batangas estate being linked to Binay.

Trillanes said over radio station dzBB on Sunday that if the Binay camp insisted that the construction of the P1.3-billion Makati Science High School was aboveboard, it should attest to this before the Senate subcommittee.

“If the camp of Vice President Binay thinks they can prove it is not overpriced, then they should show up at the hearing so that they could put on record their positions,” Trillanes said.


FROM PHILSTAR

Senators inspect Makati school building By Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 16, 2014 - 12:00am 87 721 googleplus0 0


SIT IN: Sens. Antonio Trillanes IV and Aquilino Pimentel III talk to reporters during an inspection of new Makati Science High School Building yesterday. ERNIE PEŃAREDONDO

MANILA, Philippines - Members of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee inspected the newly constructed Makati Science High School (MSHS) building but could not come up with a conclusion yet on whether it is overpriced.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, chairman of the subcommittee, and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV conducted the ocular inspection, with Makati City administrator Eleno Mendoza and engineer Ramon Zoleta present on the side of the city government of Makati and principal Evangelina Neri Apolinario for MSHS.

After inspecting all the 10 floors and basement of the school building, Pimentel said that he cannot make any judgments yet about the issue of overpricing because “nobody should make a judgment based on an ocular inspection alone.”

But he admitted that based on what he saw, the building looked satisfactory and stable.

“Compared to other government buildings I’ve been to, I’m satisfied. It appears to be strong,” Pimentel said in a media briefing after the inspection.

The school building was built by Hilmarc’s Construction Corp., the same firm that built the allegedly overpriced parking building beside Makati City Hall when Vice President Jejomar Binay was still the mayor of Makati City.

Lawyer Renato Bondal said in a Senate hearing that the 11-story Makati City parking building was overpriced by 300 percent or about P2 billion. Bondal also said in another Senate hearing that the school building was overpriced by P800 million or 300 percent.

Trillanes said the city government of Makati spent P1.3 billion for the construction of the MSHS building. The cost per classroom would be equivalent to P24.6 million, which he said appears to be too expensive.

“Based on what we saw, while it looks better than the other public high schools, it’s really ordinary,” Trillanes said.

Construction of the school was completed in February but it was only in June when students finally used it.

As of yesterday, the first seven floors of MSHS were being used for classrooms, laboratories, faculty rooms and other school facilities. The eighth floor houses the 20-room dormitory, which can accommodate a total of 240 students at 12 students per room. But these rooms are not yet being used.

The ninth and 10th floors are not yet being used because of the ongoing construction of the auditorium. The basement has 67 parking slots.

Trillanes said the subcommittee would still have to find out if the P1.3 billion already factored in the ongoing construction of the auditorium.

Pimentel said professional assessors and quantity surveyors would be asked to testify about the MSHS building when the subcommittee’s investigation into the Makati City parking building overpricing issue resumes on Tuesday.

Trillanes said he would also come out with new information of alleged corruption committed by the Vice President when he was still the mayor of Makati City.

The camp of Binay shrugged off yesterday the ocular inspection of the school building.

“The construction of Makati Science High School underwent public bidding as required by law. The project also passed audit by the Commission on Audit,” Binay spokesman for media affairs Joey Salgado said.

“On the mere say so of Renato Bondal and after a cursory inspection, the senators have already made conclusions of overpricing. This is no surprise to us since the senators have pre-judged the issue from the start,” he added.

Salgado also said that Bondal’s claim “is not anchored on logic but on fuzzy math,” and that Bondal overlooked the fact that the total construction cost includes the cost of the school’s foundation, finishing and facilities.

“His claim of overpricing in both (Makati parking) building 2 and Makati Science High School falls into the same category. It’s guesswork, or hula-hula, that won’t pass scrutiny in a court of law,” he added. – With Helen Flores


FROM THE TRIBUNE

Senate rapped for bias in 2 probes Written by Angie M. Rosales Monday, 17 November 2014 00:00

UNA: SOLONS TURNED FRIENDLY IN ICC INQUIRY


SYJUCO, DRILON: ICC HEARING

The stark contrast between Senate probers’ treatment of the inquiry on the Makati City Hall Building II which sought to pin irregularities on Vice President Jejomar Binay and the investigation on Senate President Franklin Drilon’s pet project, the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC), exposes the partisan considerations of both proceedings, the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) said in a statement.

UNA interim president Toby Tiangco criticized Senate administration allies who he said had a change in demeanor in the Senate investigation of the controversial ICC last week compared to the Makati City Hall Building II probe.

“Why the change in demeanor? Is it because the one on the ‘hot seat’ is an ally?” Tiangco said.

Administration allies gave Drilon an easy time at the hearing, in contrast to the treatment of some resource persons in the Makati building probe, Tiangco said.

“The senators turned tame as a sheep on Drilon compared to their belligerence during the hearing on the Makati City Hall Building II,” he added. “Senate President Drilon had an easy time on the chair,” he said.

Tiangco had earlier said UNA will be watching how the investigation will be conducted.

“We are also interested whether Sen. Drilon’s supporters will show the same rapid and aggressive stance in ferreting out the ‘the truth’,” he said.

“If we were watching a basketball game, that is what we call a sell out. It is too obvious. They are the referee, coach, and scorer all rolled into one,” he noted.

According to Tiangco, the way the ICC hearing was conducted was in stark contrast to how Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Alan Peter Cayetano used the Senate panel to intimidate, harass and threaten resource persons in the Makati probe.

He added people saw how the senators behaved and fawned in the presence of Drilon—and the reverential treatment of Drilon who was allowed to butt in, make snide remarks and interject.

Tiangco also reacted to the statement of Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda, who said that Drilon had set a good example.

“What good example is he talking about. They knew in advance that their “resource person” will not undergo harassment and abuse again in contrast to the other hearings,” he said.

The Vice President had earlier declined the Senate’s invitation for him to appear on the investigation.

Moreover, Tiangco also hit Trillanes for his statements made during the ocular inspection of the Makati Science High School building, which is also part of the ongoing Senate probe on the alleged overpricing of buildings in the city during the term of then Mayor Jejomar Binay.

“Sen. Trillanes had admitted that the classrooms are better than those in other public schools but in the same sentence he called these ordinary, so what it is really?” Tiangco said.

“Have they found basis to claim overprice in the building? Even Sen. Pimentel said he was satisfied in what he saw,” Tiangco added.

“How can Sen. Trillanes claim now that the building is overpriced? Is he now an engineer or surveyor? He conveniently overlooks the fact that this is a school building with facilities for learning, with laboratories as befitting a science high school,” he said.

Former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada, meanwhile, said on television that ending the probe into the alleged overpriced ICC would be tantamount to betrayal of public trust.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III had claimed yesterday the Senate blue ribbon committee may stop its investigation on the ICC since Mejorada failed to provide proof of his allegations.

Mejorada, who earlier filed plunder complaints against Drilon, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, and others, said the committee “will have abdicated its mandate for oversight, accountability and good governance” if it does not push through with the probe.

Submission of a sworn affidavit of resource persons to ascertain the weight of the testimony of those appearing before the blue ribbon committee is being pushed to be strictly followed.

“A resource person should be able able to present proof before the Blue Ribbon Committee when they allege acts of corruption or malfeasance committed by public officials. In that manner, senators could then properly study, examine and verify their claims,” Sen. Sonny Angara said this yesterday in backing up an earlier proposal made by Sen. Sergio Osmena III.

Osmena, vice chairman of the blue ribbon committee, emphasized the need to follow the procedure that has been imposed by the panel to enable Senate probers to vet the resource persons if indeed they have enough evidence to back their claims and more importantly, to ascertain if their testimonies is worth considering by them.

“This is a strong assurance or guaranty that witnesses will not change stories midway, nor will they use the committee as a venue for personal attacks or vendettas that are unsupported by evidence that has real probative value,” Angara emphasized.

“Well established is a citizen’s freedom of speech but anybody who goes before the committee should have done their homework as much as possible and come with supported testimony,” Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means said.

The lawmaker added that requiring resource persons to hand over relevant documents first will ensure that “worthwhile investigations of official abuse can be probe d upon efficiently: “That way, when a Blue Ribbon hearing begins, the senators can then be sure that they have evidence at hand, saving the time and resource it would have taken to summon that evidence on a later basis.”

It was during Angara’s cross examination of Manuel Mejorada, the chief complainant against the alleged overpricing of the construction of the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC), that the latter admitted he has no evidence to support his claims, and that he only based his conclusions on Wikipedia (entries), newspapers and whispers.

“We do not want a repeat of Mejorada’s testimony where he could not present a single evidence to substantiate his allegation,” Angara concluded.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV also supported the position of his colleagues, saying the same procedure should be applied to consider whether to continue further into the probe on the alleged overpriced ICC.

Former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco who offered to testify on the alleged wrongdoings of Senate President Franklin Drilon must likewise be made to submit an affidavit.

The senator further pointed out that at the first instance, during the initial public hearing, the resource persons should be able to convince the committee members that “it’s still worth our time to conduct further investigation.”


MANILA TIMES OPINION

Where have all the senators gone? by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO November 13, 2014 10:51 pm


RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

I mean the real senators as we have known them in the past, who lived up to the etymology of the term (from Latin senex, old man), and who embodied the ancient tradition of the Council of Elders of selfless people who had no other interest or motive but to share their wisdom accumulated over decades to ensure the welfare of their community.

Compared to our senators now, the time of real senators even seems to be a mythical age of political titans.

In the 1930s there were the likes of Claro M. Recto, who challenged the ideological hegemony of US colonialism, and Senate President Manuel Quezon, whose skill in running circles around the colonizers is revealed by new historiography.

In the 1940s, there were fiery nationalists like Lorenzo Tanada and Carlos Garcia. Then in the 1950s, we had Filipino industrialist Gil Puyat, and Mariano Cuenco, who remains unchallenged as the best politician Cebu has ever produced.

The 1960s was the decade of political demigods: Soc Rodrigo, Jose Roy, Lorenzo Sumulong , Ferdinand Marcos, Benigno Aquino, Gerardo Roxas, Jovito Salonga, Jose Diokno, and Raul Manglapus. Before feminism took off elsewhere in the world we had senators Maria Kalaw Katigbak, Pacita Madrigal Gonzalez, Eva Estrada Kalaw and Helena Benitez.

Even after martial law, we had real senators like Neptali Gonzalez, Teofisto Guingona Jr., Alberto Romulo, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and of course, my colleague in this newspaper Francisco Tatad. Joker Arroyo and Juan Ponce Enrile, if we exclude his sell-out in the Corona impeachment case, are the last of the breed of real senators.


Above, the Senate 2nd Congress (1950-53). Below, Senate 16th Congress (2013-2016) senators telling a congressman he is not welcome in the hearing

While I haven’t had the time to do rigorous research, the Council of Elders, aka the old Senate, seems to have had the following qualifications:

• Most were lawyers, which after all, is nearly a requirement as the Senate’s main work is to make laws. Those who were not lawyers, however, distinguished themselves in an important field (Senator Eva Kalaw, for instance, was a distinguished educator) or served at least a decade in a Cabinet;

• Most were veteran politicians, either as congressmen or as governors for several terms;

• Most, with the notable exception of Benigno Aquino, became senators only in their mid-50s. I think the median age of senators when they assumed such post of all 11 Congresses was 60.

That was the period when it was totally inconceivable for one senator in an official televised session to harangue his/her colleague as a thief or a womanizer or for senators to bully “resource persons” they invited in aid of legislation. It was inconceivable for a senate president to be accused of corruption on a grand scale.

I belabor my point: Today’s crop of senators consists of pygmies – intellectually, politically, and even morally—compared to the Elders of the past Congresses from the 1930s and even the ‘90s.

Eleven are merely members of, to use a term top executive Manuel V. Pangilinan invented to make fun of Augusto and Fernando Ayala, the Lucky Sperm Club. They would never have been senators if not for their fathers (or uncles): Edgardo Angara, Bam Aquino, Nancy Binay, Jinggoy and JV Ejercito, Teofisto Guingona 3rd, Koko Pimentel 3rd, Ramon Revilla, Alan and Pia Cayetano, and Bongbong Marcos.

And as many of them are demonstrating now, especially in the Blue Ribbon Committee, intelligence, decency, and fairness aren’t inherited.

If they had some measure of decency to respect the tradition and principle of the Senate of the Republic, Angara, Aquino, and JV Ejercito should have, instead, learned more about politics – and the world – as congressmen or governors.

Why should the Senate be their university to learn about politics?

You could include, as member of the Lucky Sperm Club, Sen. Sergio Osmena 3rd, but he, along with Loren Legarda, owes his political career more to the powerful ABS-CBN broadcasting hegemony.

Grace Poe and Ramon “Bong” Revilla are all members of the Lucky Sperm Club, as well as of the new club that would probably dominate the Senate in our lifetime: the media-based Celebrity Club.

Despite his self-image that his six-year detention for a noble cause has destined him to be President (as Hitler also believed for himself), Sen. Antonio Trillanes 3rd owes his status as an Elder really to his being a member of the Celebrity Club.

If not for the media’s, especially TV’s, portrayal of him as a dashing officer fighting against an unpopular president, and if not for the opposition’s exploitation of his “winnability” to throw P200 million into his campaign kitty, Trillanes would now be just – as many of his colleagues are – the security head of some hotel.

Because of the nature of celebrity-creation, Trillanes though, owes much to his parents. If he looked like his fellow Manila Pen conspirator ex-general Danilo Lim, or that sergeant who harangued everyone during that event, I don’t think he would have become a senator.

I really don’t know why our Senate from the 1930s to as late as the mid-1990s consisted of such respectable, experienced, and knowledgeable Elders. Perhaps the elite at that time made sure that only such people would become senators.

How did we come to have such a Senate as lousy as we have now?

Perhaps the answer is found in one word: Media.

The Church before the 20th century determined who was good, who was bad, and who was to rule. Thus, all kings without exception, and in all cultures, ruled because they were supposed to have been ordained by God to do so. The nobility traced their origins to some divine bloodline or fealty to kings.

In modern society, the Church has been replaced by Media.

The process has been gradual, and one can’t pinpoint an exact year when this started, but I suspect in our case it started in the 1990s.

The Media doesn’t even need to argue that so and so deserves to be senator. All it has to do is to put such person in the media limelight for so long, but without alleging him to be a thief.

If you’ve voted, you’d have experienced what I, and most voters, have. You have to fill up 12 spaces with the names of the senators to be voted into office. You think that only two, or maybe four, really deserve to be senators, and you write their names down.

You look at the ballot and you feel the spaces you left blank have been wasted. And in the recesses of your mind, the image of two or three candidates appear—because you saw them on TV or heard them speak over the radio—and you write their names, after you whisper to yourself, “Sige na nga.” (There’s a term for this phenomenon: name recall.)

Eureka, if a million voters had the same experience, jerks become senators of the Republic.

Something is terribly wrong with our system of direct national voting for senators.

In the US, senators are voted by the state, so that the voters know who they are voting for. In our case, how would a voter in Tawi-tawi really know who Trillanes or Cayetano is, except for that phenomenon called “name recall”?

Grace Poe was – and really still is —an utter tabula rasa in the masses’ mind, but her constant media exposure (especially by ABS-CBN and the Philippine Daily Inquirer) and the fact that she has the comely looks that are required for a celebrity, have catapulted her in just two short years as a contender not only for the vice-presidential, but even presidential race in 2016.

Whoever invented democracy, of course, had no idea that one day there would be such a powerful thing as media that could tell the masses who is good and who is bad.

In the US, the hegemony of media is challenged by its system of primaries by which candidates are put through the wringer, so to speak, by first hurdling their own parties’ selection process. In the parliamentary system, one who would be Prime Minister would have to prove to his peers that he is, indeed, primus inter pares.

Not so in the Philippines.

The worst case ever: Sheer sympathy for his mother’s death, and the superstitious notion that goodness can be inherited, and media that disseminated such nonsense catapulted a spoiled underachiever to the presidency, and we are suffering for that.

Is there hope for our country?


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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