Senate scandals good for people’s psyche
Senators, who are supposed to be sedate politicians, made a spectacle of themselves washing their dirty linen in public.
First, there was Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile vs Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
The issue was over the “Christmas bonus” given by Enrile’s office to senators that Santiago, siblings Alan and Pia Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV did not receive in full.
Then, it was Maid Miriam vs Sen. Ping Lacson who defended Enrile.
Ping, who is famous for his “walang prenong bunganga” (literally, a mouth with no brakes), called Miriam a “crusading crook.” Miriam shot back saying Ping pretends to know the law when he’s not a lawyer.
This riled up Ping who insinuated that Miriam had used her office funds to pay her housemaid’s salary, to shop for groceries and for husband Jun’s personal expenses.
Miriam’s blood pressure shot up and was restrained by her doctors from attending the Senate sessions.
But the biggest drama was yet to come.
On Wednesday, the Senate President had a verbal clash with Alan Cayetano on the Senate floor, also over the senators’ Christmas bonus.
It was “gutter, ugly and personal” as the Inquirer described the confrontation in its Thursday banner headline.
It was not only dirty linen that was washed in public.
Soiled panties, bras and briefs were made to dry on the clothesline for all the public to see.
The dead came to life when Enrile practically dunned Cayetano into paying a P37-million debt his late father, Sen. Rene Cayetano, supposedly owed the Senate President.
The debt was supposed to have been incurred by the elder Cayetano when he and Enrile were partners at the Ponce Enrile-Cayetano Law Office.
Enrile said he put up the law office so the elder Cayetano could feed his family.
And that’s coming from a man who millions admired for his deft handling of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Cayetano shot back, his bullet hitting a very vulnerable spot.
The young senator implied that his 89-year-old colleague extended special privileges to his chief of staff, 50-year-old lawyer Jessica “Gigi” Reyes.
“We all know how you run the Senate. Or more accurately, how you and Ma’am Gigi run the Senate,” said Cayetano.
* * *
If that is how members of the supposedly more decent legislative body behave, how do you expect other politicians to conduct themselves in public and in their private affairs?
The House of Representatives, supposedly the wilder and more raucous legislative assembly, is turning out to be tamer and more behaved than its Upper House counterpart.
* * *
But you know what?
The scandals in the Senate are, in a sense, good for the people’s psyche, feeding on the public’s appetite for voyeurism.
It shows that the officials the ordinary folks look up to are as human as they are, capable of committing the sins the man on the street commits.
It’s really more fun living in the Philippines.
* * *
I feel sorry for Gigi Gonzales-Reyes, whose name has been dragged in the Enrile-Cayetano fracas.
Gigi is the daughter of my late former boss, Pat Gonzales, editor in chief of the Manila Bulletin in the 1980s.
Gonzales gave me the breaks when I was a police reporter of that paper. What I am today I owe to Pat Gonzales.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.