Editorial: Jinggoy’s speech-A A +A
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
SENATOR Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, one of the three senators charged with plunder by the National Bureau of Investigation
(NBI) before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), finally delivered his privilege speech before the Senate yesterday.
Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III had said Friday that Estrada may drop a bigger bombshell on the PDAF scam in his privilege speech. The “bigger bombshell” turned out to be a dud.
Jinggoy didn’t expose “worse pork barrel issues” like what Sotto said. The most that he did was to cite a Commission on Audit (COA) report on the possible misuse of the PDAF releases amounting to several hundreds of millions of pesos for Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales II.
He used Gonzales’s case as platform to launch his tirades against his colleagues, specifically some members of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee; the COA, specifically its chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan; the Department of Budget and Management; and the administration of President Noynoy Aquino.
He harped on what has become a familiar accusation hurled at Aquino by the political opposition and other sectors, including some so-called netizens, which is the supposed selective manner with which the probe on the PDAF mess and the filing of charges related to it was conducted.
Estrada and critics of the Aquino administration actually have a point there, although it might be premature as yet to conclude on the selectivity considering that the investigation is still ongoing.
In a way, Estrada, et al can help expose the entire extent of the PDAF mess by providing probers with witnesses and proofs regarding the supposed shenanigans of lawmakers identified with Aquino. Jinggoy’s privilege speech failed to do that.
Estrada could not even provide solid proof on Gonzales’s “misuse” of his PDAF allocation aside from citing information from COA’s audit report and using these to insinuate possible irregularities.
By the way, Estrada was silent on the plunder case he is facing.
If his privilege speech served any purpose, it is to strengthen the cause of people who are demanding the abolition of the PDAF system. He succeeded in amplifying, using his personal knowledge, what protesters have noted in the current exchange on the PDAF mess: the corrupting nature of the pork barrel, with Malacañang using it to force lawmakers to toe the administration line.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 26, 2013.