As Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s indictment of plunder is about to be served in a matter of days, like a beleaguered guerilla in retreat, he employed the scorched earth tactic. Kaput it went, though. It happened during the confirmation hearing of the Sec. Of Justice de Lima at the Commission on Appointment (CA) on June 4, 2014.
On February 28, 2014, amid the controversial pork barrel fraud investigation where Sen. Jinggoy Estrada is one of the principal respondent, the ABS-CBNews.com reported De Lima’s reaction to Jinggoy’s threat of blocking De Lima’s confirmation. De Lima said, “Jinggoy threat is blackmail, and if non-confirmation with the CA is the price I have to pay for doing my job, so be it”. Jinggoy called de Lima, apparently saying, he meant Heidi Mendoza’s confirmation of the Commission on Audit, not hers.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, Chairman of the CA committee, on May 24, had indicated, no one, as far as he knows, objected to the De Lima’s confirmation among the members of the CA committee.
Secretary de Lima could have thought that facing the CA committee on June 4 for the first time since her appointment in 2010 would not be easy nor would be painful. She was wrong. She was grilled to the bone. Sandra Cam, President of the Whistle Blower Association teamed up with Jinggoy casting aspersion on de Lima’s reputation.
Jinggoy said he would not stand in the way of De Lima’s confirmation. He would abstain if he could not stomach voting for her. However, he sneaked in allegations and accusations, portraying de Lima as equally dirty like him and his co-accused, Sen. Bong Revilla, and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, the poster boys of the pork barrel scandal, and the other denizens’ of the government bureaucracies. Jinggoy, consistent on his mantra of selective justice is so vindictive he wouldn’t tarry night without doing the scorched earth ploy as his last hurrah. Unfortunate for the Justice Secretary. Some people didn’t see her job performance as objectively as it should. Instead, they dwell on sentiments of having ax to grind for stepping someone’s toes.
Jinggoy, reminiscent of his adroit questioning of General Angelo Reyes during the Senate Inquiry of the “Pabaon scheme” for the retiring generals that led to Reyes’ suicide, in his usual element grilled De lima of wild card accusations. On the strength of the dead man’s claimed, he insinuated that de Lima received one million monthly allowance as Chairman of Human Right (CHR) under the instruction of the former President Gloria Arroyo. Moreover, Jinggoy imputed that De Lima assisted the Reyes brothers of Palawan accused of killing Gerry Ortega, the Broadcaster to become fugitives, because at one time, De Lima was their lawyer. Jinggoy also questioned why the Sec. Of Justice, despite the “no hold order” for him to travel abroad because of the plunder charged against him, the madam secretary still questioned the immigration officials about the details of his travel. Further, he rode on Sandra Cam’s allegations about de Lima’s illicit relationships. De Lima, of course, valiantly defended all these disputations.
However, one disputation made by Jinggoy boomeranged on him that rendered inutile his scorched earth’s objective. That was when Jinggoy asked de Lima about the marginal note, apparently written by P’Noy on the Napoles letter to the President before the latter’s rise to the limelight. That innocuous question is fully loaded. Jinggoy seemed to be fishing something explosive enough to burn down the Palace, and hoped P’Noy would do damage control to keep them busy that would stall the indictment of him and his cohorts. However, there were none. No marginal notes. The self-serving Napoles letter, P’Noy said, is about Napoles snitching a retired general, head of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) during Joseph Estrada’s presidency, Levito Baligod, Benhur Luy’s previous lawyer, and NBI agents extorting money from her through her lawyer, Atty. Freddie Villamor in exchange for dropping charges and bad publicity. Then, the President turned the table on Jinggoy, since he’s more knowledgeable; he needed to explain that extortion scheme by his family’s former PSG chief.
Jinggoy’s scorched earth’s objective didn’t materialized. Who looked more believable to the people? Him or the President? The office of the Ombudsman, two days after, served the plunder indictment for Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jinggoy Estrada at the Sandigan Bayan. One of the dailies, the Rappler, on their mood meter reader, registered a whopping 93% happy