, June 24, 2024

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Pusong Mamon or Pusong Bato? Bato de la Rosa and the Politician as Ham Actor

  •   3 min reads
Pusong Mamon or Pusong Bato? Bato de la Rosa and the Politician as Ham Actor
By Joey Salgado

Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa wants us to believe that the “artista bloc” in the Senate - Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Lito Lapid, and Robin Padilla - planned and executed the coup that unseated Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri as Senate President.

By pinning the plot on these celebrities-turned-politicians, De la Rosa seems to portray himself as a member of the bloc. His crying fit during Zubiri’s valedictory even convinced the ousted Senate President of his sincerity and fealty. It also gave De la Rosa the immortality of a hundred memes. Artista, pwede, even if he is not artistahin.

Zubiri and one of his “seatmate” allies, Senator JV Ejercito, pin the blame on an unnamed higher authority, even if newly-crowned Senate President Francis “Chiz” Escudero claims he alone instigated the ouster play. Then again, some sources say it was an accumulation of personal grievances that made it easy for the plotters to gather the needed signatures. Regardless, Escudero and almost all the senators who voted to remove Zubiri have extolled the virtues of their former chief, portraying him almost as a Biblical martyr, perhaps in the mold of Joseph with the technicolor dreamcoat who was betrayed by his brothers and sold to slavery.

One can assume, with some certainty, that De la Rosa could just be engaging in time-tested diversion when he named the Senate artistas as the principal actors behind the ouster. With this narrative, he becomes a reluctant accomplice, even if this narrative reveals the core of a man torn superficially between his affinity to a fellow Mindanaoan and the perks of being part of the majority. Guess which one he chose?

No sir, you are no innocent participant to the beheading of Zubiri, even if, as you admit, the deed was actually consummated when you affixed your signature to the ouster manifesto.

Senator Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa Facebook page

Zubiri says his only crime was standing by De la Rosa. Dumbfounded and still hurting, he refuses to talk to the senator, according to sources. And so do the other members of the “seatmates” bloc. And while the senator from Duterteland styles himself a junior member of the “artista” bloc, its members may have a hard time explaining his membership to the feisty Maricel Soriano, whose name and reputation have been dragged into De la Rosa’s PDEA Leaks probe.

So the senator gets to keep his chairmanship of the committee investigating the supposed “leaks” at the anti-drug agency. Will the investigation continue under Escudero’s leadership? Will the Senate committee continue to parade witnesses like Jonathan Morales, whom the President himself labelled a liar and a jukebox, signaling to the senators his displeasure at the way his name is being muddied and maligned with nary a strong censure from the chair or from the previous Senate leadership?

Morales is not the only so-called witness in a Senate investigation who has been allowed to make false, baseless, defamatory and hearsay statements against political personalities. Nor was he the only one allowed to present documents of doubtful provenance.

Senator Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa Facebook page

It needs to be said: the Constitution does not authorize the Senate to conduct inquiries to determine criminal liability. The Senate does not have the competence to do so, nor the rules and procedures that will protect the rights of the accused.

So why persist in conducting hearings like the PDEA Leaks? Because these investigation are intended for media consumption.

Media is expected to broadcast and publish every false, defamatory, and hearsay statement against the target personality or personalities. When the target is someone not allied with the incumbent or is seen as a political adversary or threat, such witnesses are given leeway by friendly senators and even the Senate leadership. It’s a different story, however, when the target is the incumbent President and the senator conducting the probe is a partisan of the former president leading the demolition job against his successor.

De la Rosa said he wanted to get to the bottom of the leaks. Instead, he dug himself a hole he can’t get out of. He can’t terminate the hearings without antagonizing his patron. And he can’t expect absolution from the President whom he allowed to be maligned in pursuit of a political agenda. I’d like to see how he can cry himself out of this mess.

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