Farce | Inquirer Opinion
There’s the Rub


Same tack, different results.

What was different about Jinggoy Estrada’s tack this time was his throwing a line of defense into it. At one point during his privilege speech, he unveiled with dramatic flourish a CCTV footage showing Ruby Tuason—ta-dan!—not carrying a duffel bag in the Senate. Which was all very well, except that, as Leila de Lima pointed out afterward, Tuason had testified that she had gone to the Jinggoy’s office at the Senate only once with a duffel bag. Her handbag was enough to carry a million pesos in it.


Tuason had no duffel bag in the video? Big deal. All that means is that this wasn’t the one day she was referring to. How hard can it be to pull out any tape from the archives to show this? But while at this, you wonder: If a handbag can accommodate a million bucks, how much can a duffel bag do?

Otherwise, it was the same attack mode.


First, Jinggoy attacked the witnesses. Naturally he directed his fire especially at Dennis Cunanan who had made himself vulnerable by not admitting to any wrongdoing. He was the only one of the three witnesses who did so, Tuason and Benhur Luy, the other two, predicating their testimonies on the fact that they were party to the crime: Luy as Janet Napoles’ operator/recruiter/dealer, and Tuason as delivery person. It was Luy who said Cunanan had gotten close to a million pesos from Napoles in one visit. Jinggoy said he got more.

Maybe so, but what of it? Of course Cunanan needs censuring for not making a clean breast of things, a thing that could void his immunity as state’s witness, which Grace Poe threatened him with. But Jinggoy misses the point: The credibility of a state’s witness does not lie in that he or she is as pure as the driven snow, it lies in that he or she is guilty as hell. Cunanan and the others are admittedly racketeers too. That doesn’t disprove their charges against Jinggoy, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Bong Revilla; it proves those charges. They were in on it, they know whereof they speak.

All Jinggoy does by this ploy, along with much name-calling, is to remind us that his father too was in the same spot before. Erap too tried to dismiss Chavit Singson’s testimony by dismissing him as an unsavory character. Which succeeded only in showing the public the kind of company the elder Estrada kept. Like father, like son. Erap got jailed for his sins, Jinggoy could get nailed for his.

Second, Jinggoy attacked the justice department. Here, the sleight of hand, or mind, consists of turning a good thing into a bad thing. If the three witnesses’ testimonies are consistent, that is not because they are telling the truth, that is because they have been coached. That is because they have entered into a conspiracy with the justice department to “single out” Jinggoy, Johnny and Bong in exchange for immunity from suit.

The believability of this proposition however is subverted by the fact that neither Jinggoy nor Bong nor Johnny has appeared before the Senate to face their accusers. If Luy and Tuason and Cunanan have been forced or threatened into testifying, then surely it would be the easiest thing to show them up. Fearful people tend to be tremendously anxious and nervous and trip on their answers. If Luy and Tuason and Cunanan had been coached, then even easier to show them up. People who have words put in their mouths tend to spit them out when the backs of their necks are rapped.

So how come Jinggoy et al. never refuted them, embarrassed them, made them eat their words in the Senate? By preferring to give their side only under the safety or cover or refuge of a privilege speech, Jinggoy, Bong and Johnny have only succeeded in conveying to the public that they have something to hide. Indeed, that they have been coached and rehearsed and practiced. Or had words put in their mouths by lawyers and spinners who wrote and/or reviewed their privilege speeches. Actions speak louder than words. They are positively thunderous in this case.

While non-appearance has the merit of sparing them the risk of making legal mistakes, and quite prosecutable ones, it has the demerit of not sparing them the pitfall of being seen as cowards, the last thing Jinggoy and Bong and Johnny can afford. Their absence in fact is the elephant in the room. Its effects are easy to see. A few years ago, Manny Villar also refused to appear in the Senate to answer questions about the detours he made in C5. Which drove Jamby Madrigal, his scourge at the time, to shout “duwag!” in front of reporters. The spectacle of a woman calling a man “duwag” created a minor sensation. I myself thought that was one of the things that caused Villar’s downfall.


Third, Jinggoy attacked government. That of course is a familiar refrain, which has become almost obligatory in his ululations: Government is doing this to cover up for its own shenanigans. Government is doing this to crush the leaders of the opposition. This is not prosecution, this is persecution.

The ploy did work once. Jinggoy did manage to dodge the bullet last year by raising the issue of government attempting to bribe the senators into voting against Renato Corona. But this has become a movie that can be titled “Once Is Enough.” The fate of Bong Revilla’s attempt to do a Part II clearly shows so. He revived the charge of the attempted bribe of senators and succeeded only in looking like a second-rate, trying-hard copycat. The added details did not help to give it any traction. Apart from the joke or two his reference to Mar Roxas as “Boy Pickup” sparked, his speech was forgotten faster than his movies.

It was Karl Marx who said in “The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,” “History repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.”

This is farce.

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TAGS: Jinggoy Estrada, news, pork barrel scam, Ruby Tuason, Senate
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