The Senate at Centerstage

Article excerpt

ALTHOUGH there were persistent rumors about dissatisfaction with Senate President Villar's leadership, we did not expect that the Senate would act so quickly as it did during the Monday "coup." With Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile who is allied with the administration now at the helm, there are fears that the Senate will no longer be a fiscalizer. Still we are confident that at this stage of his life, he would want to leave a legacy behind - a leadership that is able to balance various perspectives and act independently.

Some say that the Villar-led Senate had devoted more time than it should in conducting investigations. But can we imagine where we would be today if we did not have an independent Senate? For most of last week, it was through the Blue Ribbon and Foreign Affairs Committees that we learned how existing legislation as well as current systems and procedures can be restructured. The P728 million fertilizer fund scam and that of the euro generals provide good case studies for Political Science 101.

Perhaps it is the wide coverage of these scams and the failure to provide prominence to President Arroyo's accomplishments that have triggered Malacanang's call to media -- to come out with more "feel good" stories about the administration, saying that the task of "unifying the nation is a shared responsibility." This of course implies that the present divisiveness is to a large extent due to media's penchant for accentuating the negative over the positive.

True, much of what we have seen and read in the media have indeed focused on the negative. But it is not media's fault as its primary role is to serve as a "watchdog" so that people's rights are protected, and thus to provide them access to vital information. What may then appear as negative news may in fact help strengthen accountability of our institutions.

Two coincidences in the Bolante and the Dela Paz testimonies, according to some, are that there appear to be some "conspiracy" - an attempt to shield powerful authorities, and a dejA vu of the Senate hearing on the NBN-ZTE deal. …