Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror, March 22, 2006 edition, p. A10.

When the Senate investigated the Jose Pidal bank account, the jueteng payolas, the tapping of Garci’s phone, the Venable contract, the role of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the 2004 elections, and the fertilizer scam, Malacañang  vilified the Senate and harassed its eyewitnesses through character assassination, intimidation, and bribes.

When Senator Juan Ponce Enrile accused Senator Jamby Madrigal of cheating,  Malacañang immediately called for the Senate to investigate Enrile’s allegation.

Presidential Chief of Staff Mike Defensor said, “We believe in him (Enrile) because he had first-hand information, and to be fair to both Senator Enrile and Senator Madrigal the issue should be investigated.”

Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye did Defensor better. He said, “Senator Madrigal should prepare herself, it is the right of the Filipino people to hear her side…and it is high time that the opposition should speak up and condemn this act of their member. The opposition should speak up because they had been attacking the credibility of our President when the fact is that the President had already thoroughly defended herself on charges of electoral fraud. It is high time that the opposition addressed the issue on Madrigal.” The worm turns.

Bunye and Defensor are Malacañang-certified purveyors of truth. The one who pulled two fake “Hello Garci” CDs out of thin air and said one of them was real is Bunye.  The one who pulled an audio expert out of his ass and claimed the real “Hello Garci” tapes were electronically and digitally manipulated is Defensor.

Anyway, it’s good that Senator Enrile is not one of Malacañang’s hired help. Otherwise, they would have ordered him to don a standard-issue Credible Administration Witness uniform: bulletproof vest, sunglasses, baseball cap, and a dirty face towel   improvised as a hood.

When Newsbreak magazine published authentic photographs with its expose of ballot boxes being taken from the Batasan complex and tampered at Atty. Roque Bello’s house, Mrs. Arroyo’s justice secretary, Raul Gonzalez, dismissed the source of the pictures.

“How can we be sure if this tape exists, if this is authentic?”,  asked Gonzalez, who has the entire National Bureau of Investigation at his disposal to authenticate anything his heart desires. “Today, it’s easy to tamper [with] CDs” he added.

And yet, despite the fact that “today it’s easy to tamper with CDs”, the EO 464-protected Mrs. Arroyo wants the public to believe that a CD allegedly recovered in the course of capturing an escaped Magdalo prisoner is authentic and untampered. The worm turns.

When an eyewitness testifies under oath against Mrs. Arroyo and her associates, it’s no good. When a senator delivers a sound bite about a colleague discussing cheating, it’s good enough for a Senate investigation. When a CD links Mrs. Arroyo to cheating and rigging, it becomes illegal to possess and disseminate it. When a CD incriminates the opposition, it becomes a Lupita Kashiwahara movie. That’s the way it is now.

But it gets better.

Last week, Mrs. Arroyo asked her staff for some law books to read. She had decided she was going to become a lawyer too.

After completing her introductory readings, she announced, “I have been poring over old presidential decrees because they are still in effect, to look at the punishment for economic sabotage. I realized that they can be tried by court-martial or by military tribunal.”

Now Mrs. Arroyo is asking for more law books to read. She wants to know if Solicitor General is a military rank with stars.

The worm is dead.