Thursday, September 27, 2007 [ 12:15 PM ]


The difference between a whistle bomb and a whistle joy is that the first starts with a loud long noise then ends with a loud bang. The latter starts with a loud long noise then will suddenly stop. No exclamation point, no spectacular ending. That is what the testimony of former NEDA chief Romulo Neri yesterday was like.

Most people thought his appearance in the senate was a sign of bravery and he was ready to squeal all that he knew about the controversial broadband deal. But as we all saw he didn’t, or maybe he tried but he wasn’t successful. All he did was to tell that Comelec chair Benjamin Abalos bribed him with “200” and that the president told him not to accept it. Every time the senators tried to dig in to what the president did after she was informed of the event, Neri invoked executive privilege. He said that he can’t tell anything about what the president told him as per order of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita. Neri said that he was allowed by Ermita to tell about the bribery and the order of the president not to accept it but nothing more.

Obviously it can be translated as an order to pin down Abalos and to clear the name of the president. But more to that, it also means that the president knows that there was a bribe but she approved the contract just the same, without doing anything about Abalos’ alleged illegal act. Cabinet members can of course argue that there was a discreet investigation made, but no one seems to know who were investigated, who conducted the investigation and how it went, except of its result that Abalos is innocent. Even after being urged by some senators that yesterday was the day Neri could do the country a great favor by not hiding under the executive privilege, he still insisted that he was only following Ermita’s order.

That was a clear sign of Neri’s loyalty to the administration, but is the administration loyal to him? I don’t think so. In fact Ermita just denied that he was the one who ordered Neri to invoke the privilege. If Neri wasn’t lying about it then Ermita is. Neri should take that as an indication that even how much he shield Malacañang, he is not assured to get the same protection. Who knows, if the controversy becomes even bigger, he might be the next fall guy for the couple in the palace.

A pdf file of Joey De Venecia III’s affidavit in the senate investigation can be downloaded here.


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