Saturday, February 09, 2008

Lozada, a hero?

By his own admission, resigned Philippine Forest Corporation CEO Rodolfo 'Jun' Lozada believes he is not worthy of being called a hero. But just as in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king; so it goes that in the land of the hopelessly corrupt, the man with even just a bit of conscience is a saint.

The begrudging attempt by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago to 'test' the credibility of Lozada was hardly enough to cover up the stink of the ZTE National Broadband Network deal. I don't think we should look over the irregularities and possible cases of graft perpetrated in his office as Philforest CEO, the Ombudsman should with all haste lodge a case against Lozada but only after it files appropriate charges against all those whose names cropped up at the ZTE scandal hearings.

Perhaps it's just me but I sensed that Senator Defensor-Santiago had begrudgingly tried to defend Gloria and her First Gentleman by impugning the Lozada's character. She spent a good part huffing about how she only had five minutes to spare on questioning Lozada, telling everyone that she had just come from some meeting with foreign diplomats and was about to attend another meeting with another group of foreign diplomats. She did some fast and systematic work dishing out the dirt on Lozada, exposing his own corruption by breezing through a number of official documents.

This leads one to wonder, why was it so hard for Senator Mar Roxas and Senator Noynoy Aquino to get a transcript of the Minutes of the Cabinet Meeting where the ZTE deal was discussed, while it is so easy to obtain documents pertaining to irregularities in the transaction of the Philippine Forest Corporation?

Two words. Executive Privilege. It has become a new way of hiding the dirt or using Lozada's lingo, the bukolan in Malacanang palace. The way Gloria and her men use it, Executive Privilege can be used to mean any attempt to cover up facts that will perhaps lead to some form of truth.

(Er, oo nga pala, meron na palang kopya si Senator Ping Lacson nung hinahanap nung dalawang lolo na naka-salamin. Ito naman kasing si Senator Lacson, hindi pagsabihan ang staff na i-share sa mga ka-chokaran niya ang mga dokumento -- then again, baka naman pa-epek lang iyong pagsita niya sa staff niya.)

(I remember how effective Miriam had been at weeding out corruption at the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation. I was a college student when she gained national fame for writing the book on ferreting out graft and corruption. I was one of those who voted for her when she ran as President, because I felt what we needed at that time was to put an end to corruption in government. It is rather sad that she hasn't trained it on Gloria, the first gentleman, and the rest of the Official family.)

Even Manong Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Gringgo Honasan did their share to pry into Lozada's intentions and examine his sense of morality. But then again, it seemed half hearted.

Joke Arroyo and Dick Gordon weren't even at the hearing.

Department of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales has threatened (and will make good on his threat) to investigate Lozada for possible graft. This is like running after the petty thief instead of the bank robber. The Justice Secretary has no sense of justice.

In anycase, all this reminds me again of the Blue Book scandal during President Diosdado Macapagal's time (you will find the account in the college history book written by Agoncillo).

Lozada's testimony, for all it is worth, is just testimony and the lawyers in the Senate, including in Gloria's cabinet, will attack Lozada's credibility -- even attack Lozada himself. This is the problem with most cases where the accused is prosecuted on the basis of testimony alone, even if it is corroborated by the testimony of others. All one has to do is to intimidate or liquidate the witness or let the case drag on for years until the witnesses are senile or near dying or dead.

Moreover, at the end of it all, the Senate (despite all the claims of its Majesty as the checker and balancer of the Executive) will not produce a conviction of those accused of plundering the nation's coffers and sending the Filipino people to suffer decades of penury -- tayo ang isinasanla sa iba't ibang mga bansa para makautang ang gobiyerno at ang perang nauutang ay ibinubulsa lang ng mga kawatang opisyal.

If at all the Senate investigation terminates with a report, all the report will do is recommend prosecution and prosecution is the job of... you guessed it... he DOJ and the Ombudsman.

Anak ng...

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