How not to conduct a hearing
Drama unfolded at the Senate yesterday as the senators tried to conduct a hearing (in aid of legislation they say, although exactly what kind of legislation is being aided remains to be seen since the senate’s record as a legislative body is, quite frankly, dismal). The senate is an institution that is fast degenerating in the public eye. Our senators seem to be tripping all over themselves in their desperate efforts to justify their existence. As an institution that is fighting tooth and nail to gain public sympathy to maintain its existence, I am afraid that it is losing heavily in the bar of public opinion.
I have no love lost for the PCGG. I think that the commission has failed to live up to its mandate. It has been almost a score since it was established and yet it still has nothing to show for its efforts. I think that even the current pragmatic stance for compromise settlements is doomed simply because the cases have become hopelessly mired in legal entanglements that now require a miracle to sort out.
But bullying a commissioner, engaging him in a shouting match and calling him all kinds of unsavory names during a hearing is definitely not the way to go. As they say, ang pikon talo. Thus, PCGG Commissioner Sabio may be bluffing and all the accusations against him may be true, but he has suddenly become the underdog in this whole spectacle. He has suddenly and officially assumed the status of a martyr.
Thanks to the emotional tantrums of Senators Gordon and Enrile, I have no doubt that there are many out there who are buying this emotional yarn of Sabio being a humble public servant simply doing his job and who is now suffering at the hands of bullies. It was a good thing a cooler and more sensible Senator Osmena eventually interfered to restore some semblance of civility into the whole proceedings– but sadly, all that was not enough to overshadow the earlier drama. Expectedly, all the newscasts last night focused more on the shouting match, showing a very livid Senator Gordon spewing fire and brimstone while on the other side of the room, a seemingly meek and harmless PCGG Commissioner sat trying to get a word in.
PCGG Commissioner Sabio may have provoked the outburst with his dogged insistence to interrupt, but there is absolutely no justification for Gordon’s hysterics. Sadly, the gravity of the whole purpose of the hearing is now lost and all people will remember about the senate hearing is that unfortunate power tripping.
That was definitely a powerful lesson on how not to conduct a public hearing.