Amazing. Two weeks after resurfacing, Virgilio Garcillano — with the help of his handlers, or the opposition, or (name your favorite conspiracy theorist here) — has managed to make himself, well, almost irrelevant. To be completely candid, this is something I did not expect even from our political theater of the absurd.
The other day I caught Rep. Teddy Locsin telling the hard-working Ces Drilon (how many shows does she host, really) that the most important person in the wiretapping hearings in Congress was actually Samuel Ong, he-who-said-he-had-the-mother-of-all-tapes-and-then-disappeared. I suppose from the limited view of a congressman pursuing the truth behind the wiretaps, he is absolutely correct. (I remember he said Ong was "the closest" to the actual making of the tapes. I also think Locsin has the most reasonable approach to the wiretapping mess, but that’s matter for another day.)
But on the larger but intricately related issue of election fraud, the key person must still be Garci, yes? Whether by accident or by design, Garcillano has managed to turn his statements into virtual irrelevancies. I think in a very real sense the public has learned to discount him and his evasive answers. Is that good for him and the principal most Filipinos believe he served during the 2005 elections? I suppose that depends on which criteria we use.
But that doesn’t mean the opposition, or at least the minority in the House, should be reduced to political stuntism. Unfortunately, the best the minority congressmen could do during the first two hearings involving Garcillano was exemplified by Rep. Roilo Golez. He centered his intervention on the whole, legally indefensible notion of getting Garcillano to recite the passages the tape transcripts attributed to him. Nice political theater, if you can get it. But any man is perfectly justified to reject such a request. That would not have necessarily confirmed the fact that it was Garcillano’s voice on the tapes, but that would certainly have condemned Garcillano to endlessly looped vootage and audio recordings of himself, reciting the passages.
Of course that was Golez’s point, but it was not the kind of "evidence" needed to push the hearings forward. I guess what I’m saying is: Our opposition failed the public’s expectations yet again.