THE word “insertion” has been tossed around since the controversy over highway C-5 involving Sen. Manny Villar erupted.

Inevitably, people would joke about it, as many Pinoys are wont to do with scandals. But who expected the joke—permissible only in locker room, coffee-shop, or bar–to surface in the Senate, cracked no less by venerable Sen. Nene Pimentel Jr.?

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When Sen. Mar Roxas said he hadn’t made any insertion in the national budget, Nene quipped: “Well, I’m sure after your marriage, you’ve had some insertions.”

The gallery snickered, as Mar demanded that the comment be struck off the record, to which Nene readily acceded.

Manny’s “insertion” has no trace of sex. It’s placing in, or fitting into, an existing budget an item or line not there when approved. It tells of secrecy, if not illegality. The complaint against Manny raises conflict of interest and unjust enrichment—in sum, as Sen. Jamby Madrigal not too subtly put it, “corruption, corruption.”

Mar’s “insertions” weren’t in the budget. He didn’t have any, Mar said.

Affront, slur

Entirely different things. And the big difference is: Mar’s, ah, insertions were perfectly legal since he and Korina are married and she isn’t likely to allege rape while Manny’s may not be, depending upon the outcome of the Senate probe.

Was it an affront to Mar’s wife? He thinks it was. Did it slur women? Sen. Pia Cayetano says it did.

Amid talks of Manny’s “abuse of power,” a harassed public gets to smile or laugh over the joke — and Korina’s “hero” gets as reward some ice cream and cake and maybe something else on the side.

(paseares@yahoo.com)