So Philippine Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr today has concluded his privilege speech before the Senate where he supposedly aired his side following his being implicated in allegations of pork barrel thievery surrounding alleged scam leader Janet Lim Napoles. Did we learn anything new from the speech? It seems none — other than that Revilla thinks whistleblowers Benhur Luy et al are liars and that Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III and his daang matuwid rhetoric are all big fakes. The Senator also accused Luy of forging his signature dubbing him “Boy Pirma” (literally “Signature Kid”).Beyond that, Revilla’s privilege speech was no more than a tirade heavy on appeals to emotion, citing how hard he works in his various sidelines as movie and television star, product endorser, and family man (which raises questions around how focused he really is on being a Philippine Senator). He also recounted the last three years of President BS Aquino’s administration lambasting the president and his sidekick Secretary Mar Roxas for the various shady activities they instigated to influence the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.
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Revilla cited a specific occasion when he was chauffeured by no less than Secretary Roxas to a meeting with President BS Aquino for the purpose of hearing Aquino try to convince him to deliver his preferred verdict. As expected, Revilla made it clear in his speech that he responded to the president by asserting his and the Senate’s independence in whatever decision it will take. But of course.
Much of the rest of Revilla’s speech was a litany of well-known, widely-recognised failures of the Aquino government — most notably the fatal political paralysis that doomed the relief and recovery efforts following the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan (a.k.a. Yolanda) marked by the insensitive treatment of the calamity victims by the president and Secretary Roxas.
Listeners who may have fallen for Senator Revilla’s charms and the tears he shed while on the podium would’ve been victims of an old persuasion technique where the persuader befuddles the audience with a cacophony of irrelevant non-sequiturs (with thanks to my colleague Paul Farol for that piece of insight). The tactic also involved a rather lame attempt to discredit or flat out deny the pork barrel scam itself by trying to convince everyone that the scam itself was part of a conspiracy being instigated by the government to cover up its failures.
Perhaps, all true. But just the same, Senator Revilla, the allegations have been tabled and it will only be in a court (or pseudo-court as might be the case) where the accused will be forced to stick to the issue when making their testimony.
For now, a Senator’s “privilege speech” allows him to say what he wants — which in this case, consisted of a wholesale glossing over the facts, the allegations, and the arguments in favour of distracting drama and hollow bluster.
As always, when it comes to circuses like these, we can only look to the national wisdom in the words popularised by the nation’s premier media network:
Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.