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'Trapo' unmasks . . . himself

By Dan Mariano
Opinion Section
The Manila times

Not a few listeners nearly fell off their chairs when they heard Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano’s remarks in a recent radio interview on the threat of Sen. Panfilo Lacson to bare new evidence linked to the alleged double budget insertion attributed to Senate President Manuel Villar.

Cayetano, predictably enough, pooh-poohed Lacson’s warning. However, what floored listeners was his remark that the threat “is typical of Senator Lacson’s style of disclosing alleged evidences to media on a piecemeal basis in order to create suspense and grab public attention.”

Confused, listeners could not help but ask: Wasn’t Lacson’s trademark “piecemeal disclosure” the very same style that gave both the Gentleman from Cavite and the Gentleman from Taguig stellar media billing during the National Broadband Network (NBN) controversy?

Wasn’t that the very same style that helped Cayetano hog the limelight when he peddled innuendoes that Mike Arroyo had millions stashed in some European banks?

Is Cayetano now condemning piecemeal disclosure, which proved to be an effective media strategy for himself and his committee in the past? Had not Cayetano himself engaged in the same brand of political striptease, as in Abangan ang susunod na kabanata?

Is he condemning this style because it seems to be working against his newfound principal, the now-controversial Senate President?

It appears that, as far as Cayetano is concerned, piecemeal disclosure that keeps the media and the public excited over an issue is acceptable only if it is used by him—and an aberration if used by his principal’s tormentors.

Does Cayetano now find unpalatable a dose of his own medicine—or has he switched roles, from an accuser to an apologist?

At first, observers could not understand why the Villar camp appears to have handpicked Cayetano as chief defender of the beleaguered Senate boss. They thought that pitting Cayetano against the older, more seasoned Lacson could put the Blue Ribbon committee chairman at a major disadvantage.

On second thought, the tack has turned out to be a brilliant move. Since Cayetano and Lacson have teamed up in several probes against administration personalities, the Villar camp may have reckoned that the former would be the perfect foil to the latter.

Cayetano, after all, is all too familiar with how Lacson operates. His recent “condemnation” of piecemeal disclosure proves as much.

The Villar camp’s tack, however, is costing Cayetano a lot. The Senate boss now owes his younger colleague big time. Observers can only hope that he amply reward him.

By scrimmaging with Lacson, Cayetano has revealed himself to be well schooled in the ways of traditional politics. He stands staunchly against a Senate probe of Villar’s alleged double insertion for the infamous road-to-nowhere.

His most recent reincarnation is in sharp contrast to the previous image of Cayetano that a large section of the public appreciated—a young lawmaker who would investigate anything against the administration, even if his inquiry were based on nothing more than coffee shop gossip.

Senate reporters predict that Lacson will not take Cayetano’s tirades sitting down. The former top cop, many believe, is just waiting for the right timing.

A major issue that Lacson is expected to raise against Cayetano is the Blue Ribbon committee report on the NBN fiasco. Observers suspect that the unfinished report has become collateral damage in the Cayetano-Lacson tiff.

The betting among Senate kibitzers is that Cayetano could consider watering down the credibility of the witnesses surfaced by Lacson. Cayetano may have little choice on the matter. If he were to vouch for the credibility of Lacson’s NBN resource persons, he would be hard put questioning Lacson’s credibility in the latter’s current assault against Villar on the double-insertion issue.

The escalating conflict between Cayetano and Lacson has had another collateral damage: Joey de Venecia’s impeachment bid. Already, the latest complaint against President Arroyo has received tepid reception from even the opposition in the House of Representatives.

The former speaker’s son and namesake would be dismayed to find out that his impeachment bid faces even dimmer prospects in the Senate. His erstwhile patrons—the now-feuding Katzen–jammer Kids who made him famous—have become bitter political foes.

Highly unlikely is the possibility that Lacson and Cayetano would bury the hatchet for Joey de Venecia’s sake.


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