After nine sessions, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has no indication of listening to reason and keeps churning out clearly scripted events on top of unfounded charges regarding allegations of overprice in the government’s purchase of medical supplies when the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak was starting last year.
“Missing” witnesses who will later surface in the custody of minority senators, or preferably prelates, are the usual ingredients to such a telenovela.
The resource persons necessarily would be dodging threats to their lives to complete the dramatic effect.
Such a soap opera usually happens near an election period to maximize the political gains that it can generate for the opposition camp.
When the constant battering from the Senate sessions has had its desired effect of eroding public support for a target, such as President Rodrigo Duterte, the demonization is then passed on and carried out by groups waiting in the wings to push the agenda, mainly through allied media outlets.
That was the same playbook employed in the Senate Blue Ribbon Subcommittee inquiry on Vice President Jejomar Binay over the alleged Makati City Hall Building 2 anomaly that took all of 25 hearings prior to the 2016 presidential polls. At that time, Binay, who made known his intention to seek the presidency right from the start of his six-year term in 2010, was leading all the pre-poll surveys.
The goal then was to draw Binay for a public humiliation in the almost weekly subcommittee proceedings.
Binay, however, was adamant about not giving in to the senators’ demand even at the pain of being bodily dragged into the hearings of the troika composed of Senators Koko Pimentel, Antonio Trillanes IV and Alan Peter Cayetano.
The Vice President complained of the hostile bearing of both Trillanes and Cayetano, who were interested to pillory him. The trio then convinced the main Blue Ribbon panel chaired by Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III to issue a subpoena for Binay.
Similar to the current marathon hearings, the triumvirate then called the clearly partisan exercise as being held in aid of legislation.
Trillanes, to justify the inquisition on Binay, said the subcommittee will propose a legislation “to require the installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) on all government auction proceedings.”
It took some stretch of his limited imagination for Trillanes to come up with the alibi and to think the public would be gullible enough to accept that it will take 25 public hearings that extended for hours to determine the need for CCTV installation.
As the inquiries progressed, the preliminary intent of the subcommittee in proving allegations of overprice in the construction of the Makati City Hall Building 2 had been lost and in its place was a myriad of unrelated accusations, all coming from political rivals of Binay.
No credible and admissible evidence had been presented against the Vice President during the well stretched out hearings on Binay, thereby wasting the time and resources of the Senate.
After the 25th hearing, Trillanes tried a ridiculous stunt of showing to media a pile of folders, which he claimed were the evidence that would be submitted to the Ombudsman showing the proof dug up against Binay.
Binay’s camp, however, recognized the folders and said these were submitted by the Makati City government to support the position of the Vice President and to show cooperation with the Senate.
The contents of the folders served to show transactions and projects were transparent and had complied with government rules and procedures.
It turned out that Trillanes and likely his cohorts never bothered to read whatever was transmitted to them as a result of the hearings.
It exposed the reality that the senators, in the partisan hearings they hold, have prejudged the matter and the inquiries are all meant to generate public outrage against their quarry.