Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Inquirer dissects Cayetano's tirade against Gordon's Blue Ribbon Report on the Fertilizer Fund Scam

"I love the Inquirer, I hate the Inquirer, but I read the Inquirer."


In its Editorial today, the Philippine Daily Inquirer virtually defends Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman from the snide and sneering attacks of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.  


The young Senator, also known as Scrappy Doo (the knephew of Scooby Doo and friend of Senator Villar aka Mr. Itik), had been harping to the press that Gordon's Blue Ribbon Committee Report virtually absolved President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.  


The PETULANT ranting seems misplaced since investigations into the NBN ZTE as Blue Ribbon Chairman didn't produce a report -- full, partial, preliminary or final.  In one of the many hearings (12, I think), he had the chance to make former NEDA Secretary General Romulo Neri squeal his guts out about what he knew regarding the deal but for some reason cut the questioning short.  Then after the last hearing, nothing.


The PETULANT rants of Cayetano betrays the fact, also, that he did not read the report before he opened his mouth.


The Inquirer dissects Cayetano's loose, rabid, slobbering rants.  (Does anyone have a rolled up newspaper I can borrow?  A young dog needs to be taught a few tricks.)


A pack of wolves 

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:45:00 02/26/2009


We share the sense of frustration that Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano gave vent to on Tuesday, when he criticized the Senate blue ribbon committee’s final report that he said “prematurely absolved” President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of direct involvement in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam. [Read story] But we also share the sense of resolve and even the sense of difficult achievement that animated the report, signed by at least 11 senators and released by committee chair Sen. Richard Gordon last Monday.


“The public, for a long time, has demanded closure to this issue. We have done our part. Now, let the prosecution arm of government do theirs,” Gordon said.


There, in three short sentences, we have a succinct summing-up of the second Senate inquiry into the notorious scam perpetrated by the business-savvy former agriculture undersecretary, Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante. And there, too, in those same sentences, we find the beginnings of an answer to the three plaintive questions Cayetano raised on Tuesday. “Why was the hearing stopped, why is there now a committee report, and why was the President prematurely absolved?”


To belabor the obvious: The Senate is not a court; indeed, it isn’t even a prosecutorial service. It conducts investigations strictly in aid of legislation. What that responsibility means is that proof of criminal wrongdoing on the part, say, of a public official need not be ascertained “beyond a reasonable doubt,” for the Senate (and in its turn the House of Representatives) to pass legislation that prevents the same crime from being committed by the same or other public officials. The Gordon report includes several substantial recommendations for remedial legislation.


To be sure, the first Senate inquiry into the electioneering scandal that is the fertilizer scam, conducted by the agriculture and the blue ribbon committees of the 13th Congress, found that the President should ultimately be held accountable for it. The second inquiry reaches almost the same conclusion: “While the Committee found no evidence directly linking the President to the fertilizer scam, the acts of the former Undersecretary of the DA, Mr. Jocelyn Isada Bolante ... are deemed acts of the President since they acted within the scope of their authorities given to them by then Secretary Luis Lorenzo Jr. Since there was no reprobation or disapproval coming from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regarding their actions, it can easily be inferred that the President acquiesced [in] such acts.”


Do we need more confirmation that the President did not only authorize the fertilizer fund scam but — the best proof available — directly benefited from it, during the May 2004 elections? The only way to get additional confirmation is for operators like Bolante to confess the President’s own involvement; unfortunately, there is no Chavit Singson in this sordid scandal. As Sen. Panfilo Lacson told reporters, “that’s as far as the evidence could reach.”


Cayetano, who said he would be signing a minority report with three other senators, said it was “difficult to believe that only an undersecretary could manipulate P728 million.” The Gordon report asserts the exact same point: “Does anyone really believe that Bolante et al. would have been able to malverse such a gargantuan amount and continue to evade all sorts of liability without the acquiescence of MalacaƱang?”


The majority report’s moral certainty is shared by many people; in the absence of other witnesses, and in view of other, equally pressing matters, the blue ribbon committee did right in putting closure to the scandal. It recommended either continued investigation by the Department of Justice or the Office of Ombudsman of, or the outright filing of plunder and other charges against, the wily Bolante; it pushed for similar action against nine others implicated in the scam, described as a pack of wolves; it condemned Executive officials and agencies, including former Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin, for being remiss in their duties; it even asked for the resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez for “gross inaction.”


The report’s executive summary ends on a dire note: “We dread to see again the unleashing of packs of wolves feasting upon already scarce resources of government. In all probability, there were other wolf packs involved in the disposition of the remaining P535 million in fertilizer funds that have yet to be traced.” But at least, and for a second time, a start has been made.


No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...