A fight within the majority as to the rules, but ex-commissioner Garcillano has been found in contempt of the House, and a hold departure order issued against both Garcillano and Atty. Samuel Ong, will be requested by the lower house. Rep. Locsin also moved that the passport of Garcillano be cancelled by the Department of Foreign Affairs. Like so much else, too little, too late. At 11:14 a.m. Michaelangelo Zuce waddled into the Senate.
It seems to me that since the impeachment process has begun, both houses of Congress would be better off suspending hearings to concentrate on the job at hand. However, I also believe that televising House and Senate hearings is important, fundamentally so, as an educational activity. The public deserves to see the quality (or lack of it) of their representatives. We all benefit from seeing the ability, or lack of it, in parliamentary procedure, argumentation, etc.
I’ve long advocated gavel-to-gavel coverage of the sessions of both houses of Congress, in the manner of C-Span, which was created by the American networks as a public service. C-Span broadcasts the sessions of both chambers without commentary. We should do the same. Since broadcasting is done according to franchises, all the networks should be compelled to set up at least two cable channels dedicated to the workings of Congress.
Speaking of Zuce, Anonymous Sources (who it seems is not who I thought he might be) quotes a letter supposedly sent by Garcillano lobbying for his job. I’m curious about all these documents. Normally, sensitive political matters are either contained in unsigned memoranda or simply verbally discussed, because it’s never a good idea to leave a paper trail. It seems curious to me that Garcillano and friends would leave such an extensive paper trail, but then reality has turned out stranger than fiction… I do think it’s reasonable for Zuce to have been putting together a scrapbook of potentially useful documents, so maybe he simply thought ahead. Gari takes a layman’s view on the witness and his testimony; Edwin Lacierda thinks the President’s men need to attack harder; Newsstand remains skeptical of the jueteng link being peddled by Zuce.
Punzi, taking a cue from a recent entry by La Vida Lawyer, explains how government employees travel, which might help unravel the paper trail; today, La Vida Lawyer says another possibly fruitful line of inquiry involves the layout of the President’s La Vista home.
Jove demonstrates how reporters look up information and hunt for clues, in the mysterious case of Joey Rufino, who, while suffering from liver cancer, somehow sent a fax from the Kamameshi House on Tomas Morato Ave. His entry provides a glimpse into the methods journalists use to follow a story.
The Inquirer in its editorial, wonders if Zuce is “the key”:
MalacaÃƒÂ±ang ought to be very careful about impugning the testimony of Zuce, simply on the basis of his having been a low-level operative or even a flunky. Our class-conscious society suffers from the delusion, common among the powerful, that their flunkies don’t think and thus don’t realize the full importance of what their employers do and say in front of them. Reporters routinely resort to interviewing waiters, janitors and household help to verify the movements and actions of people in the news. There is no reason a low-ranking fly (admittedly, a pretty big and not very inspiring one) wouldn’t have information damaging to his former superiors.
Dan Mariano think the sums involved in Zuce’s testimony are too small, which contrasts with the Inquirer’s take on the matter:
The amounts Zuce mentioned in his statement seem far too small to impress the Comelec officials whom the President had allegedly suborned.
In the run-up to the presidential election, Zuce said, his uncle GarÃ‚Âcillano held several consultations with Comelec officials in Mindanao. During those meetings, Garcillano allegedly handed out P20,000 each for regional directors and provincial election supervisors, P15,000 for city election officers, P10,000 for municipal election officers and P5,000 for selected Comelec staff in Mindanao, said Zuce.
In late 2003 a second round of payoffs was made to Mindanao regional directors and provincial elections supervisors at a meeting organized by Rufino at a hotel in Manila. During that meeting, Zuce said he distributed to the Comelec officials P17,000 each in white envelopes.
A third meeting with Mindanao Comelec officials at the same hotel was held in January 2004 where three of RufinoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s staff purportedly distributed P25,000 each to the election officers.
Now, to many Filipinos P25,000, P17,000 or even P5,000 might be equivalent to a monthÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wages, but they do not seem like amounts that could tempt crooked officials who, as Zuce implied, were already in the habit of taking bribes.
Zuce also alleged to have organized a junket for 27 Comelec Mindanao officials in Manila and that Bong Pineda gave P150,000 to cover all expensesÃ¢â‚¬â€including three days at a hotel in Malate. That works out to just P5,555 a head, barely enough to cover air fare.
The figures that Zuce has so far mentioned do not inspire confidence in the veracity of his allegations. These are details that his handlers need to clarify, if this latest whistle blower is not to go the way of, say, Ador Mawanay.
Says the Inquirer editorial, on the other hand,
What is interesting, in fact, about Zuce’s allegations is that it’s marked throughout by the pedestrian nature of the corruption he claims to have taken place, and in which he participated. In contrast to Cam’s exaggerated claims involving millions of pesos in bribe money, Zuce speaks of “gifts” in the range of tens of thousands of pesos: it is more believable that a person as piddling as the Palace says Zuce is would only have handled, and known of, relatively small sums. There is, after all, a hierarchy even among political crooks.
Columns of note, today: Rudy Romero examines exit scenarios for the President; JB Baylon wonders if the public is helpless; Greg Makabenta takes a jab at ABS-CBN overseas and praises GMA7; Florangel Braid looks at studies on parliamentary government; Marichu Villanueva says Butz Aquino should revive his bill setting out to define the responsibilities and budget of the office of the presidential spouse (an executive order on this subject was suggested but the President declined to act on it); Mike Tan tackles the legacy (or lack of it) of Ferdinand Marcos.
Interesting tidbits of news: the House Committee on Justice is confused (which is leading to speculation that it might throw out the amended impeachment complaint); and the President, talking to Korina Sanchez the other night, says she has never advocated a unicameral parliament (which opens up a charter change deal with the Senate: after all, the Abueva proposal does provide for a bicameral parliament).
This morning, Marites Vitug texted me about something that has led to their issuing a statement, which I’d like to quote in full:
3 August 2005
Newsbreak Bares Threat
We would like to make public an incident that, we believe, is meant to scare one of our staff members at Newsbreak. While we know that threats come with our job, we do not take this lightly.
By letting the public know of this incident, we hope to get the best protection for Ms. Gloria and Newsbreak.
Last night (August 2), at around 8:30 p.m., a wreath meant for the dead was delivered to the family residence of our managing editor, Glenda M. Gloria, in Quezon City. On the ribbon was written, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Condolence from your loving friends.Ã¢â‚¬Â The delivery boy was instructed to give the flowers to Glenda Gloria and that she would know where the deceased is.
Ms. Gloria spoke to the delivery boy and he said that a man in a black car, around 30 years old, bought the wreath from their small flower shop on Araneta Avenue. The man said that he was an employee of the company where Ms. Gloria worked and he gave his address as Ã¢â‚¬Å“Metro Manila.Ã¢â‚¬Â He instructed the delivery boy to go to two addresses: one is Ms. GloriaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s old address which is on her Smart cell phone bill and the other is her family address. The man told the delivery boy that it was a rush job and paid P1,000 for the wreath.
The man also gave specific instructions to the delivery boy that if Ms. Gloria were not in the first address, Ã¢â‚¬Å“where she rents,Ã¢â‚¬Â he should proceed to the second address.
Ms. GloriaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s recent stories in Newsbreak have to do with the military. In our July 4, 2005 issue, she wrote on the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces as the Ã¢â‚¬Å“number one suspectÃ¢â‚¬Â in the wiretap scandal. In our latest issue (August 15, 2005), she wrote on the alleged participation of some officers in the 2004 election fraud in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
As managing editor, she also supervises and coordinates reporting of stories.
Marites Danguilan Vitug
Editor in Chief