I watched with great discomfort the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing yesterday looking into the “money-trail” of General Jacinto Ligot and his wife, Erlinda and after about an hour of fruitless reel, I was rigid with stiff neck in a half-recumbent posture on a couch, but somehow I have managed to draw a conclusion that the entire hearing represents everything that is wrong with our country and our people: “We love circus which is filled with illusion but short on reality.”
Congress thought it was entertaining to keep badgering Mrs. Ligot who right from the very start was invoking her right against self-incrimination every-time a question is fielded to her by our bozos in Congress on advise of her lawyer at her side, almost nibbling her ears, who did not know any quaint law principle that he even blithely told Congress that the revelation of the Ligot-Sandiganbayan fact-sheet, was in itself “sub-judice” and therefore could not be inquired into by the body.
The lawyer thought that he could bring his client to Congress as a resource person but he can gag her just the same. His law professors who were gone could be twitching in their graves while those still around would be red in embarrassment for this desultory adventure in legal ignorance.
One of the participants in this grand circus, was Senator Estrada who repetitively asked Ms. Ligot, gaily and cheerfully to answer his questions to a point where he was almost fawning at her like a pervert propositioning to a GRO in a dimly-lit cubicle for a blow-job only this time they were in front of TV cameras and it was the business of the nation they were discussing about.
But there was not even a need for Mrs. Ligot to shed light on her various property acquisitions and her expensive travels abroad together with the wife of another general which was paid for by the government because Senator Estrada have already the “dossiers” at his disposal which he occasionally reads from time to time to refresh the memory of the beleaguered “jewelry matron” who stubbornly invokes her right against self-incrimination.
By her invocation of the right against self-incrimination, Mrs. Ligot had impliedly admitted that they had stolen from the government and/or her husband made use of his office to make inordinate gain to finance their expensive life styles and her occasional travels abroad – thus she made a traceable argument of her right against self-incrimination. But a recorded transaction under her name or that of her husband does not fall under the principle of “self-incrimination” because these are not testimonial evidence but documented transactions. There is a big difference between admitting to a very personal fact that she knew could subject her to prosecution in the future, and facts that are being asked of her on the basis of past recorded transactions. The first situation is covered by “right against self-incrimination” but it is totally unavailing in the second situation.
At the hearing Mrs. Ligot was playing around at her “inquisitors” and at one point had the sarcasm to call Senator Estrada very “honorable”. Her polite used of the Tagalog word “Opo” was actually a veiled belligerence of which the Senate was willing to condone. Senator Estrada has tried all his seductive appeal on her to reveal that one obnoxious pearl in her seashell, but to no avail.
It was funny enough to see them beat about the bush, but it was more hilarious to adjourn the hearing and decide later whether to give due course to the motion by Sen. Estrada to cite Mrs. Ligot in contempt. Her conduct was a direct contempt punishable by outright detention but Congress was not about to assert its authority and let this witness leave feeling triumphant in her ability to seal her lips instead of being vanquished by putting her on hold and let her feel the wrath of the nation they betrayed and debauched. This kid glove treatment is mirror enough of how our Senators can put up a show chiefly for political sound-bytes instead of the genuine attempt to avenge a public wrong and bring them to account for their conduct. The failure of Congress to detain Mrs. Ligot was a missed opportunity to uphold the dignity of the institution.
And see how these crooks have that singular addiction to the constitution’s bill of right that says that no person should be compelled to testify against himself and thus they can put up a tenable argument against their providing evidence of their own pillage but were disingenuous enough of the other provision of the same document that says “public office is a public trust” and that public officers and employees must, at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency; act with patriotism and justice and lead modest lives.
These deviant characters can read the constitution piecemeal if it will shield their crimes, but trash it if it will allow the government to recover its loss. Please observe how they preen their feathers at the constitutional provision that as officers and soldiers they are the protector of the people while they rob them blind and with impunity.
Meantime, Senator Estrada proves true to his calling as a movie actor. He had used the hearing for a maximum exposure to score more “pogi” points and appeared as if he was after the general welfare of the people. He commended the new Chief of Staff, Gen. Oban for gracing the occasion and announced that he had already prepared a legislation that will address the flaw in the system of disbursement in the Armed Forces. This makes one ponders why summon Mrs. Ligot again, when he has everything figured out to address the problem?