“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
By Alex P. Vidal
NOW that Senator Teopisto Guingona III has set the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the alleged overpriced Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) project on November 17, the occasion will serve as a moment of truth for both the accused Senate President Franklin Drilon, et al and their accuser, Manuel “Boy M” Mejorada.
Although the merits of the serious charges Mejorada thrown at Drilon, et al will be tackled in the formal investigation to be initiated by the Office of the Ombudsman, the senate committee hearing is always considered by the public as the primordial barometer to spot the vagabonds, the tearjerkers, and the ninny lobcocks.
Like in the other high profile senate investigations, we expect hearing proponent, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, to again grab public attention and bring those invited to appear in the hearing in the edge of their seats.
It was Santiago who sponsored a resolution calling for the inquiry after Mejorada’s well-publicized filing of plunder and graft raps against Drilon, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and other Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) officials in relation to the P700-million project in Iloilo City.
Now that Drilon has announced he was willing to inhibit himself, we expect him to skip the hearing and monitor the event on TV somewhere else.
Of course, people would love to see Drilon’s presence so he can dispute the allegations leveled against him by his former Twitter accountant handler and media consultant for Iloilo.
But based on all indications this early, it looks like the senate inquiry will unravel without the presence of the senate president.
Mejorada, the most excited person in the entire imbroglio, has expressed willingness to appear in the hearing even before Guingona announced the November 17 date.
Mejorada’s face to face encounter with the fire-spewing Santiago, a fellow Iloilo resident, is now inevitable, barring unforeseen circumstances.
As she is wont to do, Santiago, 69, a former trial court judge, usually starts her spiel with a fierce lecture, or a cross-examination-like juggernaut that usually leaves the invited guests immobile, confused and flabbergasted, especially if they are imbeciles and intellectually inept.
There is a popular saying in the gallery that if there are rats inside your stomach and you can easily be intimidated by a staccato of words and high tones, you better stay away from the senate committee hearing lorded over by Santiago.
To an ordinary invited guest, Santiago always sounds intimidating even if she asks the most basic questions such as “can you state your complete name and other personal circumstances?” and “Why you are here and what is your role in this committee investigation?”
Mejorada should not expect a joy ride once Santiago starts to open her laser-laced mouth during the hearing.
It’s always better to be prepared ahead of time than to be zapped with shockwaves of unexpected questions that will catch a person flat-footed.
He should anticipate harsh and even gruesome questions especially about his background as a media practitioner and as a government official.
Mejorada’s past and present links with politicians—winners and losers in the previous elections—are also expected to be brought up.
Battle-scarred and intrepid, Mejorada knows where he is heading to.
We all know that Santiago is deadly when it comes to marital and extra-marital affairs.
She is merciless even the way she describes innocent individuals caught in between the scandals.
Her sharp tongue has tormented a lot of prominent and little-known individuals who found themselves like being thrown into the lion’s den or like being mauled black and blue by the spinach-eating Popeye after the hearing.
Look what she did to Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and his concubines (plural).
Drilon’s co-accused will also suffer from emotional and intellectual discombobulation if they go to war unmanned and unprepared.
For sure, the hearing will be a battle of not only credibility, but also of documents.
There are allegations of overprice in the ICC project, financed partly by Drilon’s Disbursement Allocation Program (DAP), and Mejorada insists he is determined and ready to prove it.
Drilon claimed there was no any anomaly in his pet project for Iloilo City.
Let’s proceed with the senate committee hearing.