Dateline Manila: Senate enjoys better public trust ratings PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 17 October 2014 11:24

BY Sammy Santos


It is unfortunate that the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay, through its hyperactive spokespersons, have opted to question the integrity of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee rather than answer the charges of corruption levelled against the vice president.

In fact, words like “Senate kangaroo court” being used by the spokespersons in defending the vice president tended to cast aspersions on the integrity of the whole Senate as an institution, according to observers who are not aligned to either side of the controversy.

But for all the deafening cacophony of pronouncements made by Binay’s spokespersons in questioning the Senate probe into the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Building II, one point would seem beyond question at all: the legitimacy of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to investigate and uncover the details of cases of malfeasance involving those supposed to serve the public.

No sloganeering for public sympathy, or lowbrow invoking of conspiracy plots, can obfuscate the fact that it is the primordial task of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to investigate any anomalous transactions of the government, and its officials, in aid of legislation.

The records of the Blue Ribbon Committee speak of historical accomplishments in the pursuit of good governance: among others, the impeachment case against President Joseph Estrada was facilitated after the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee in 2000 determined that he received millions in illegal payoff involving the numbers game jueteng; The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Fund scandal, which was investigated upon by the senators of the Blue Ribbon Committee in 2011, later became the basis of plunder charges filed against former President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo.

Findings made from these Senate inquiries contributed to the crafting, enacting and strengthening of pertinent anti-corruption legislation, such as the Anti-Money Laundering Law.

The names and issues may have changed throughout the years, but one thing remains the same: that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will investigate, and expose corruption, and will create legislative recommendations to improve the laws of the land.

No cries of political persecution will delegitimize the committee’s questions about the truth regarding the nation’s most pressing controversies – which are reflective of those being asked by millions of our countrymen.

The Senate’s investigation into the Makati parking building is thus no different from the issues that have been probed by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee in the past, no matter how some quarters vigorously paint and wish it to be.

The existence of political motivations does not and will never mean that the pursuit of the facts behind alleged irregularities involving public figures are not meaningful and worthwhile.  In contrary, public scrutiny of our government officials’ affairs is good for Philippine politics, and beneficial for a better Philippine democracy.

Binay’s camp claimed senators participating in the probe, such as Senators Koko Pimentel, Alan Cayetano, and Antonio Trillanes are politically motivated. I totally agree; almost everything involving senators and the Senate are politically motivated.

The campaign against corruption is definitely politically motivated. The campaign for good governance and improving the lot of the Filipino masses is politically motivated. Crafting laws for the betterment of the people is politically motivated.

If the 16-point jump in the public satisfaction ratings of the Senate as shown in the latest result of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey is any indication, it seems that the rest of the nation shares the same sentiment too.

Speaking of the SWS survey, a number of freshmen senators have expressed their elation over the 2014 third quarter results which showed that the Senate’s trust rating from last quarter increased from 12 percent to 28 percent this month.

Senators attributed the leap in the approval rating to the fact that senators continued to work hard despite the controversies that hounded the Senate such as the pork barrel fund misuse, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) controversy, and the current Makati City Hall controversy.

Nacionalista Party (NP) first-term senator Cynthia Villar said that the improving survey rating of the Senate was “a reflection of the people’s approval of how the senators have been doing their work.”

“We have seen how senators worked hard to pass measures that will improve the lives of the poor. This will surely encourage us to be more productive,” Villar added.

Another freshman senator from the Liberal Party, Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV said senators worked hard for the increase in the public approval rating of the Senate.

The only way to get the trust of the people back, according to Aquino, is to continue working hard, create innovative and new solutions to age-old problems and to pass relevant laws and policies that will truly benefit the Filipinos.

Senator Sonny Angara said it was likely that the Filipino people appreciated the pro-people legislation coming out of the Senate.

“I personally receive a lot of support for the tax measures being pushed,” Angara said. “So we must continue to push measures which affect people’s lives and touch real issues which our people care about. There is more to do for sure.”

For his part, Trillanes said he was glad to learn that the Senate has regained its trust rating. He said the positive rating “can only mean that the investigations have the tacit support of the people.”

The SWS survey was conducted amid the ongoing Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee hearing on the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2 and allegations of graft and corruption against Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Last month, Pulse Asia also released results of a similar survey that showed an increase in the Senate’s approval rating from 33 percent in June to 40 percent in September.

The SWS survey also showed that House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Senate President Franklin Drilon enjoyed public satisfaction gains. Drilon received the highest gain as his net satisfaction rating rose by 16 points, from 20 percent to 36 percent while Belmonte’s rating increased from “neutral” positive 2 to “moderate” positive 13.