The Boy Who Cried Pork (Part 2)
|Senator Jinggoy Estrada delivering his privilege speech last September 26, 2013. Image source: Inquirer News|
(According to Edilberto C. de Jesus, professor emeritus at the Asian Institute of Management, “Litigation lawyers, when confronted with damning evidence, joke that the respondent’s recourse is to hide behind the ‘Peanut Butter Defense’—spread the blame. One website condensed the thrust of this strategy thus: ‘I am a thief, but I am not the only one.’” [Inquirer. Emphasis added.])
In his privilege speech before, he hid behind his parliamentary immunity to defend himself from the accusation that he (along with Senators Bong Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile) sliced a chunk of his pork barrel for himself though fake non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
|Senator Estrada grilling COA Chair Grace Pulido-Tan during the budget hearing. Image source: Rappler|
Just the other day, he bullied—to no avail—Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan during the Senate budget hearing last Wednesday (October 16).
Estrada told Tan, “Bahala ang implementing agency. Nag-endorso kami ng NGO. It happened to be bogus. ‘Di naman namin alam. Dapat you call their attention, tinigil ang pagpapadala ng pera. Bakit kami ang sisihin?” (It’s up to the implementing agency. We endorsed an NGO. It happened to be bogus. We did not know. You should call their attention, stop the release of funds. Why blame us?) Tan said, “We are not blaming you. It was the implementing agencies that said they have no hand in the implementation. They should know from you that you do not believe them.” (Rappler. Italics theirs. Emphasis mine.)Yes, Tan added, “The implementing agency is responsible for funds.” (Ibid) However, she disagreed with Estrada’s claim that he is not responsible, too. “They are directly, primarily liable but it also says in the law that they are not the only ones liable but everyone involved in the use of the funds.” (Ibid)
But Estrada held on to his shaky ground.
“Ganito lang iyon eh. Alam na pala nilang bawal o bogus. Bakit sila tanggap nang tanggap ng pondo galing sa [endorsement ng] senador?” (It’s this simple. They already know it’s illegal or the NGO is bogus. Why do they keep receiving money from the senator’s endorsement?) Tan said, “Dapat po kayo magtanong.” (Then you should ask them.) (Ibid. Italics theirs)At the very least, Estrada failed to exercise due diligence or was negligent in his endorsements. The fact that he admitted he doesn’t have a clue that the beneficiary was bogus did not help his cause at all. He just dug his grave even deeper.
|Image source: Inquirer News|
By doing so, he actually sent the not-so-subliminal message (read: threat) that the COA should back off. That these honorable lawmakers are untouchables. That no one should investigate these lawmakers or else their budget would be held hostage.
Because of Estrada’s obvious tantrum, the senate hearing did not even get to discuss the budget at all. Sadly, it unduly delayed the approval of the budget of COA. Since it’s deferred for another time, the committee would be spending again for another hearing. Such a waste of the taxpayers’ money all because Estrada thought he could clear his name in that hearing. He tried in vain to exact his revenge on Tan and the COA at our expense!
|"LET'S PARTY. Janet Lim-Napoles [the alleged pork barrel scam queen], left (standing), rubs elbows with senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla in this photo taken during a party in Estrada's favorite hangout in San Juan." Caption and image source: Rappler|
That is, if there’s anything left of it at all.