Monday, November 17, 2008

An utter waste of time

This is my c0lumn today.

I hate to say it, but here it is just the same: I told you so.
I knew nothing would come out of the Senate hearing on the fertilizer scam. Like most everyone else, I didn’t want to have expectations that the hearing would yield anything productive.

We’ve had more than enough experiences with Senate hearings in the past, from the Brunei beauties, to the jueteng scandals, to the Garcia scam. We know that not a single one of them has ever resulted in a conviction. We’ve never had a Senate hearing where some guilty person was forced to admit culpability for some shenanigan. Experience has shown us that these hearings tended to degenerate into shouting matches, scolding sessions and occasions for displaying the incompetence of some of our leaders.

But this one offered some possibilities. Or at least that was what we wanted to believe. After all, it’s been a couple of years since the scandal broke out. Our senators and their staff, presumably, had more than enough time to gather information and to get their acts together. Surely, given the fact that most of them were visibly salivating at the thought of being able to finally grill the supposed architect of the scandal, they had something up their sleeves—some damning evidence, perhaps even a prepared script.

And then there was all that drama that attended the main witness’ forced deportation from the United States and his subsequent arrest and “confinement” at the St. Luke’s Medical Center. The House of Representatives wanted to do their own investigation, media and civil society camped out and did their own song-and-dance routines designed to pressure the witness to snitch on the powers-that-be. The hyperventilation created anticipation.

Perhaps this time would be different. Perhaps. We were in for a major disappointment.

We never learn.

The names of the witnesses may have changed, but they were the same old characters.

On one side, inquisitors who fancied themselves this country’s last bastion of morality, decency and good governance; people who have abrogated into themselves the responsibility of ferreting out the “truth”—a specific type and kind of truth that they wanted.

The overzealousness and the vigilance are not necessarily bad things; in fact, in another time and place, they would be prized and ideal. Unfortunately, when combined with giant-sized egos, the results can be horrendous.

So once again, we had a succession of senators asking the same questions. The witness was on the stand for eight hours. He was grilled by more than a dozen senators. Did he get as many variations and line of questioning? Of course not! What he was subjected to was more than a dozen repetition of the same line of questioning. The only thing that changed was the attitude of the senator doing the questioning.

Some were openly condescending—a few could not help but pontificate and deliver homilies and lectures. Some were openly contemptuous and did not bother to hide their displeasure. Two or three senators displayed competence and probity but were unfortunately out-shadowed by the hysterics and antics of their colleagues.

To be really candid and honest, I don’t really begrudge our senators their personality quirks. Truth to tell, there are days when I feel that the flash of temper, the arrogance, and even the sarcasm all make for an interesting hearing.

My beef is really with the quality of the questions. In short, I don’t expect our senators to be paragons of courtesy and civility although that would not necessarily be such a bad thing. But I do expect them to come to the hearings fully prepared, to be fully briefed by their staff on what has transpired and what questions have been asked, and to ask logical questions.

In short, I expect them to do their jobs properly and not waste our time with incompetent and illogical questions. But then again, this is probably not a fair expectation given the fact that our senators seem to think that they have been elected into office for entirely different reasons.

On the other side, we had the usual line of slick people who have mastered the art of spinning tall tales. Nagtatagpi-tagpi na lang ng kwento and they don’t even look like they care about being logical; heck, forget about being logical, just making sense would have been more than adequate. These are people who seemed to have sunk so low, it looked like they’ve already decided they have nothing else to lose anyway so sticking to their story is the best option.

In this particular case, the witness looked more than sufficiently prepped and coached. Either the doctors at St. Luke’s had a special therapy that works, or he was at the medical center for an entirely different set of reasons.

Whatever the reasons, one thing was painfully clear: Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante and his handlers came to that Senate hearing better prepared than all our senators combined.

1 comment:

Twin-Skies said...

One thing was made clear to me at the Senate hearings: If Miriam ever decides to retire from politics, she would make for one awesome political parody show host.

Imagine - our very own answer to Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, lolz.