Disbursement Acceleration Program, Franklin Drilon, Hilmarcs Construction, Iloilo City Convention Center, Iloilo Convention Center, Renato Corona, Roy Cimatu, Senate Blue ribbon, Terry Ridon, W. Coscolluela and Associates
You can always trust Senate President Franklin Drilon to change his position on issues as easily as he changes clothes. When it is convenient for him, he can also change loyalties and drop Presidents like a hot “kamote”. He has a proven track record on that kind of behavior.
Who can ever forget the booming voice of Drilon nine years ago at the front steps of the Iloilo Provincial Capitol when he introduced then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo? Ex-PGMA was then besieged by the “Hello Garci” scandal and she came to Iloilo feeling depressed. “Mrs. President, pag ayaw nila sa inyo doon sa Maynila, ilipat na lang ninyo ang Malakanyang dito sa Iloilo, dahil po mahal na mahal kayo ng mga taga Iloilo!” Drilon thundered to the delight of Ex-PGMA.
But of course, the rest is history. Two weeks later, Drilon orchestrated the resignation of the “Hyatt 10” to force Ex-PGMA to step down from office. It was a political coup d’ etat that Drilon instigated. He had hoped to convince then Vice President Noli de Castro to name him Vice President after he succeeds to the Presidency. The plot failed because De Castro declined to support the coup.
Two years ago, Prof. Harry Roque of the University of the Philippines College of Law, ran into Drilon at the Hotel del Rio where he had embarked on a campaign to get libel decriminalized. As narrated to us by Atty. Roque, Drilon enthusiastically told the law professor he was backing the initiative. He boasted that he had never filed a libel case in his entire public career, Roque told us.
Then, just last March, Drilon told reporters after a Senate hearing on the Cybercrime Law provision on online libel that he wanted to see the Revised Penal Code revisited and push for the removal of the libel provision under Art. 355. He was doing this as an advocate of press freedom, he claimed.
That position took a 180-degree turn, a complete about-face.
On August 27, 2014, Drilon filed before the Pasay City Prosecutors Office a complaint for criminal libel against me for alleging impugning his integrity and reputation when I wrote a blog post entitled “Putting safety on the line — the Iloilo Convention Center.” The article made it appear that he had violated anti-graft laws of the country. He insisted his name is impeccably clean.
I will refute his allegations before the Pasay City Prosecutors Office.
What I can say is that this act is another instance of the bully tactics that Drilon is fond of employing against people much, much lower than him in the political totem pole.
I just noticed that Drilon has become overly-sensitive when the issue is the Iloilo Convention Center. He hates it when anybody utters even a suggestion that there are anomalies in the project, and that he is involved in those anomalies.
Such was the fate of party-list Rep. Terry Ridon after he filed a Resolution before the House of Representatives allleging a rigged contract and overpricing for the ICC. When they met at a birthday party last month and introduced to each other, Drilon launched into a verbal public harangue that left Ridon dazed with humiliation.
Drilon can’t help it. It’s in his character to throw his weight around. He takes delight in giving hapless individuals a public flogging through the Senate hearings; but when his name is dragged into scandals, he is quick to flare up, as if he is a sacred cow upon whose name no unsavory words can be uttered.
Remember the time when former AFP Chief of Staff, retired General Roy Cimatu , appeared before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee which he chaired back in 2011 on the alleged ill-gotten wealth of military generals?
Drilon literally squeezed the neck of Cimatu, who had become Special Envoy to the Middle East after retirement, in a garrote by insisting that a commercial building which he and his wife owned just at the foot of the Iloilo Bridge was ill-gotten wealth. It’s just that General suffered from a bad case of stage fright; his answers to the stiletto-like questions of Drilon were mumbled and hard to comprehend.
But the truth is that General was married to an Aguillon, the family that owns the F and E Enterprises and other businesses. The property was acquired back in the 80s, when Cimatu was just a Captain or Major. His wife had ample resources to buy that property. I remember back when Cimatu was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Philippine Army and served as battalion commander of the 47th Infantry Battalion in Aklan He was already flying his own plane!
Drilon didn’t bother to double check his facts. Because of his unease on the “frying pan”, and under intense questioning from Drilon, Cimatu behaved like he was guilty. Those who knew him personally asserted he was not. He was just hapless in the face of aggressive questions from the bully that was Drilon.
For a long time, Drilon strived to maintain an aura of incorruptibility in the public view. It helped that when Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearings were held, his seemingly fearless questioning gave him an image of a graft buster. His bullying tactics proved to be an advantage. In truth, his true character is just the opposite.
This brand of bullying reached its zenith when former Chief Justice Renato Corona was tried before the Senate as the Impeachment Court in early 2012. Sitting as a Senator-Judge, Drilon behaved like a marauding and overzealous prosecutor seeking to hang the former Chief Justice. Instead of showing that he was an impartial magistrate, Drilon performed like a playing coach for the prosecution, coming to its rescue when the defense pulled down their pants.
It was a performance that Drilon had to do well. He was playing not for the nation; he needed to regain the full trust and confidence of President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III. He didn’t mind being criticized for his bullying. It was his ticket to getting back into the inner circle that would eventually enable him to craft the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) with his partner, Butch Abad.
So many individuals in power have fallen under the crushing weight of Drilon’s bullying. But I am not intimidated. I know that this complaint is false and baseless. It is just a means to harass me. I consider it a cowardly act by a powerful tyrant. He simply wants to make life miserable for me. In the end, I am confident that the truth will come out: that his claim of being impeccably clean is a farce.