I just can’t help it but blog (and rant) what I saw today on Philippine TV. At long last, former Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante appeared before the Blue Ribbon Committee of the Philippine House of Senate.
The Committee is chaired by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano – who refused to inhibit from “chairing” the Investigation at the request of Senator Panfilo Lacson – citing the fact that Senator Cayetano was one of the alleged beneficiaries of the 728-Million peso “Fertilizer Scam“.
The Senate Investigation started with Senator Cayetano explaining to JocJoc that the Senate presumes his innocence and that the Senate is not out to convict him – a rather confusing statement when in fact the Senate already convicted Bolante and even issued a warrant for his arrest.
Then Bolante was allowed to speak and surprisingly, thanked the Senate for its humanitarian and fair handling of his case – amusing and amazing, when in fact he accused the Senate of being vindictive and politically inclined before the US Courts when he applied for political asylum – which was eventually rejected.
Then the most disappointing events followed – the Senators, including those I admired failed the expectations of many people to ferret out the truth behind the alleged Scam. Objectivity – which was supposed to be the guiding principle of the Investigation was simply not present. The Senators who led the questioning of Bolante (Sen. Mar Roxas, Sen. Jinggoy, Sen. Escudero) including the Chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee were all one in portraying Joc Joc Bolante as the Scam Architect, guilty, con-artist, “madrama”, liar – even hurling insulting statements, throwing demeaning remarks and sarcastic gestures.
They themselves went down to the supposed level of Jocjoc. Whether JocJoc Bolante is guilty or not, the Senate should not have dealt the Hearing the way they did today. When they want to investigate in “aid of legislation” (which until now – they haven’t done any legislation out of those numerous Senate Investigations), Objectivity and maintaining Honorable disposition are very important.
I should say based on how he answered the questions – Bolante scored over the Senators. If he was indeed guilty – the Senators made him looked like an innocent in the process. He answered the questions clearly – a thing that made most of the Senators visibly irked. JocJoc Bolante obviously is guilty in the eyes of the Senators, and in public – and the Senate should have let the Justice System do its job.
He should have faced his day today in the Court of Laws, not in the Court of opinion and media spotlight. Sen. Miguel Zubiri, who himself inhibited from the Committee Investigation was right in saying – that Bolante should be charged in Court so he can defend himself there, and save the Senate from becoming a circus.
Disappointing, but indeed it was as entertaining as ever… notably when it was Senator Miriam Santiago’s time to speak. She saved the day.