Saturday, May 3, 2008

Wala na akong maidaragdag pa...

here's today's editorial on the inquirer website I'm reproducing it in full for you dear readers. As I said in the title, I have nothing more to add to this editorial except maybe a standing ovation hehe

Naked spin

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:05:00 05/03/2008

MANILA, Philippines—It’s a cliché, but it is still one good way to say it: Give it an inch, and Malacañang will grab a mile. It is something Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano rediscovered earlier this week, perhaps to his embarrassment or grief.

Last Tuesday, the chairman of the Senate “blue ribbon” committee on public accountability and investigation told reporters the investigation of the ZTE national broadband network (NBN) deal, which started in September last year and went through 13 televised public hearings, yielded evidence leading to Malacañang but heard “no direct testimony” linking President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. “There is evidence leading to the Office of the President, but it is always better—may it be in a court of law, in an impeachment proceeding or in the blue ribbon committee—that there is direct testimony,” Cayetano said. In this case, he added, “There is no direct evidence.”

That statement was all that the administration needed to claim that the President had been absolved of any wrongdoing in connection with the scandal-plagued $329-million NBN project. “Saying there is no direct evidence is in effect an admission that the case against the First Couple is either very weak or does not exist at all,” said Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, one of the President’s staunchest defenders in the Senate. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita chose to look at it in the better light. “That’s very significant because the fact of the matter is, even if we listen to all the interviews in the Senate, there really was no evidence whatsoever linking the President,” he said. “It’s a vindication of the national leadership.”

There is a big difference between Cayetano’s “no direct evidence” and Ermita’s “no evidence whatsoever” and it is as wide as the gulf dividing the truth and a lie. But why would Malacañang officials quibble over such distinctions? What is one more lie for an administration that has been caught lying, cheating and bribing politicians and anyone who is willing to sell his support for the President?

Now Cayetano has his hands full defending and clarifying a statement that really needs no defense or clarification were it not for Malacañang’s extravagant claim of complete absolution. (Serves him right for speaking too soon or out of turn.) But even in the unlikely case that Cayetano and the three Senate committees investigating the stinking ZTE-NBN deal would agree with Ermita that there was “no evidence whatsoever” against Ms Arroyo, it would be hard to imagine the Filipino public swallowing that line. If there is no “direct testimony” linking the President to the scandal, it is because Malacañang has made sure nobody would come forward to point a finger directly at her. Romulo Neri, the former director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, came close to doing it, until Malacañang prompted him to invoke “executive privilege” in refusing questions about how the NBN project got approved by the Neda board even after he had reported to her the P200-million bribe offer of then Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos.

Lawyers and the President’s defenders may make fine distinctions between direct evidence and circumstantial evidence, but to the majority of Filipinos the fingerprints of the President and her husband are all over the place. For one thing, there was the President’s unusual interest in seeing—literally—the agreement signed and sealed even as First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo lay seriously ill. Then there was her own admission that she had heard talk about an “anomaly” but still went ahead to witness the signing of the agreement. There was Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr., and earlier Jose de Venecia III, putting the President’s husband right there where the project was being discussed and at one time ordering De Venecia to “back off” from the deal. And there was that scary abduction of Lozada, carried out by airport officials and the police, and other attempts to keep him from revealing what he knew of the deal. If all this doesn’t make somebody look guilty, nothing will. Not even the kind of evidence that would stand up in court that Malacañang apologists want the President’s accusers to produce.

But Filipinos can tell who is lying and who is telling the truth. The latest survey says three out of every five Filipinos believe Lozada. And going by the President’s falling credibility rating and approval rating, it would seem they have already formed their judgment. They may just be awaiting the day of reckoning.

emphasis on selected portions are mine.

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