Coitus interruptus. Just when everyone thought things were gonna pop, things went pffft.
Seriously. What did they expect? For Bolante to roll over and say everything everyone wanted to hear? That’s idiotic, even as a vain hope. I mean the man gave up years of his life to avoid having to say anything for chrissakes. He’s not gonna come back and put that self-exile to waste by dancing to the Senate’s drum.
But you gotta hand it to the man. He does have a big pair. I thought he was just going to take the fifth; I had no idea he would be audacious enough to actually deny any wrong-doing. But in doing so, the intrepid Mr. Bolante pWnd the Senate and has taught us a valuable lesson: expecting other people to bring your fantasies to life will only leave you frustrated and reduce you to making childish quips to save face.
Senators were frustrated yesterday with former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante’s testimony, which they found incredible, but it was Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago who was most vocal and expressive about her frustration over the substance of Bolante’s testimony. She mimicked Bolante by putting her hand to her chest and occasionally screamed “aahhh” in exasperation, saying she could not believe Bolante could simply deny the allegations against him.
Aside from the issues on the fertilizer fund scam per se, Santiago also castigated Bolante for making excuses about his disappearance when the Senate had issued summons for him to appear in the investigation into the issue during the 13th Congress.
“I give you fair warning, sir, that although I’m an administration ally, what I have heard today has caused me to almost have a heart attack. I’m suffering from arrhythmia and you will have to take responsibility if my health deteriorates and I join you at St. Luke’s hospital,” Santiago said.
Other senators who attended the hearing – Manuel Roxas II, Pia Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, Juan Ponce Enrile, Panfilo Lacson, Benigno Aquino III, Richard Gordon and Rodolfo Biazon, Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan and Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada – took turns grilling Bolante, sometimes raising their voices, but to no avail as the person tagged as the architect of the fertilizer fund scam stuck to his story.
When Bolante drank medication during the hearing, Escudero joked that it would hopefully improve his memory, as the senator could also not accept Bolante’s explanations.
Lacson also lost his cool towards the end of the hearing and said Bolante should be committed to a jail rather than the hospital where he had been staying since he was deported on Oct. 28 because he was apparently not sick.
The senators later allowed Bolante to go home and be with his family, although he would remain under Senate custody pending verification of his statements, particularly his claim before US courts that some senators were only out to overthrow the Arroyo government.
“I feel better, at least I can be with my family,” Bolante said after the 10-hour grilling at the Senate.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, said he would coordinate with other witnesses and set a hearing next week with Bolante again as one of the resource persons.
Bolante thanked the senators, saying, “I appreciate that.”
“I agree and I fully commit to come back at anytime you would like to. With my health, God willing, I’ll be willing,” Bolante said, even managing to crack a joke on his health.
At one point, Bolante made the inquisitive senators and the people in the gallery smile when he told Estrada that his doctors found he had a heart.
“What did your cardiologist say?” Estrada had asked.
To this, Bolante remarked: “At least, your honor, they found that I have a heart. What I am trying to say is there is indeed some accumulation, hardening of the artery.”
Bolante added that he has been under medication for several years “due to my high blood pressure, erratic high blood pressure.”
Bolante did not show any sign of exhaustion even though he was grilled for more than 10 hours by the senators.
Estrada said Bolante was only “acting” when he claimed illness upon his arrival from the US last month. At one point, Escudero had described Bolante as suffering from “dramatitis.”
Seriously, tho’ the assertions of some Senators – in support of their belief that Bolante was lying – only revealed the poverty of their craft. Following Mar Roxas’ moronism, we would then have to assume that the Prez personally reviews, f’rinstance, the text books procured by the DepEd; or that she personally knows and approves appointments to FSO1 positions all over the world. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the Prez was clueless about this. It’s just that Mar Roxas obviously has nothing more tangible to connect the Prez to the mess than his own moronic assertion that because the woman micromanages, she must know.
If anything, today’s (or yesterday’s) hearing amply demonstrated the complete falsity of the Senate’s posturing as the Furies out to get the government for all its sins. The hearing showed that the Senators actually just rely on media-fueled bombast to win over an already disenchanted public without ever really being able to deliver actual proof of wrong-doing. All these innuendoes and “damning facts” left hanging in the air do nothing more than allow media-hungry politicians to preach a gospel of hate to the enraptured choir. And in many cases, that gospel really does a disservice to the people.
For example: government agencies like the Department of Agriculture are governed by procurement rules that can become quite complex in operation. Sure the basic process is simple and straightforward, but when any one of a thousand variables come into play, sorting the whole thing out can be difficult. Which is why there is an entire office devoted to giving procurement advice to government agencies engaged in major procurements.
But politicians typically ignore this. And it serves them well that they do. The public, after all, does not have the attention span to listen to the intricacies of procurement, so better to just reduce everything into black and white and pretend that everything can be answered fully and faithfully with a yes or a no. The public gets a good show, but it does not get the real picture – which leaves them just as clueless as they were in the beginning, only infected with unreasonable rage.
Plus, because the black and white picture is so fucking useless at getting crooks out of office and into prison cells, the crooks can be portrayed as ‘getting away scot-free’ because of the influence of the corrupt government. Piggybacking politicians are therefore assured a deep well of outrage that will never run dry. The public anger that can be generated from that well of outrage can then fuel their run for office. Just like Chiz Escudero and Alan Cayetano in 2007.
And all this is so especially annoying because politicians have deep pockets. if they invested all that money into honest legal detective work, instead of focusing on exposes and dramatic press-conferences with amateurish powerpoint presentations, they we might actually get people like JocJoc indicted. Instead, they dismiss the Courts and the Ombudsman as instrumentalities of a corrupt government and ignore the proceedings once the cases are actually filed. Small wonder then that many of the cases end up being tossed out.
In all probability, that’s what’s going to happen to this fertilizer fund bizness too. And I doubt that the morons in the Senate will ever admit – even to themselves – that they are as much to blame.
Incidentally, some of my friends told me that they were glued to their ANC because they thought that the grilling of Bolante – which actually turned out to be more of a marshmallow toasting session for all the heat it actually generated – would reveal which of the senators were of presidential timbre. I haven’t polled their reactions yet, but I daresay they were disappointed as well. No one – absolutely no one – distinguished himself today.
“Cept maybe the eel-like Bolante, and he distinguished himself for all the crappy reasons so he doesn’t count.