(The quotes in this post are from various newspaper and internet anecdotal accounts.)
When the picture of Atty Vitaliano Aguirre appeared in the dailies looking miserable with his hands cupping his ears I was reminded of the paintings of Edvard Munch, a Norwegian symbolist painter, who explored the themes of love, fear, death, melancholia, and anxiety.
One of the more popular paintings of Munch was entitled The Scream (see image on this post) which depicted a man with hands cupping his agonized face shrieking in what seemed to be an excruciating experience.
My analogy may be a tad exaggerated but so was Atty. Aguirre’s pose, but, it did convey the fact that Miriam may have overstepped her bounds by inflicting aural and emotional pain to the members of the prosecution panel.
As pointed out by several observers prior to the ugly confrontation between Miriam Santiago and Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre, the chief presiding officer of the impeachment court, JP Enrile seemed to have abdicated his role as moderator of the court and allowed senator jurors, the lead defense counsel and even himself to debase and ridicule the prosecutors in the prosecution panel.
The phrase “sober as a judge” has been given new meaning in the impeachment court when decorum and sobriety were thrown out of the window.
The prosecution panel became daily fare for the sadistic penchant of some of the senator jurors, more specifically Miriam Santiago. She had taken fancy on Rep. Niel Tupaz who became the whipping boy for her sarcastic and demeaning tirades, gave him a grade of 3 (conditional?) in case presentation with a few expletives thrown in.
The portrayal of Rep. Tupaz as a bumbling buffoon may have hurt his political reputation to the delight of his political foes, namely the Defensors of Iloilo to whom Miriam is closely related to.
The prosecution, an aggrupation of congressmen and a few private prosecutors might have been guilty of poorly crafting the impeachment papers and for ineptness on litigation procedures relative to a legal lion like the lead defense counsel, Serafin Cuevas, but surely did not deserve the bamboozling that they got.
It is to their credit that they have maintained their cool but not until Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre showed a quite passive and innocuous protest gesture by cupping his ears. This was not allowed to be passed up by Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who made much of the gesture as an act of disrespect to the whole Senate impeachment court. Miriam made a motion to cite Atty. Aguirre in contempt which was followed forthwith by a seconding of the motion by Senator Pia Cayetano.
The senators should have been more sober and circumspect to have just allowed something so petty to just pass and not make drama out of such a trivial matter, besides this was precipitated by Miriam’s scathing verbal abuse delivered in a paroxysm of rage. While Senator Peter Cayetano concurred with the citing in contempt of Atty. Aguirre he couldn’t help himself but quip “having Atty Aguirre listen to Miriam for 24 hours would have been a fitting penalty”, wittingly or unwittingly agreeing that a voice like a screaming banshee is indeed intolerable.
JP Enrile has been praised for some judicious rulings in the course of the impeachment proceedings but, by and large, had made the impeachment rules as if it was a work in progress, going as his mood and spirit moved him. This led to inconsistent rulings to the dismay of the prosecution panel. He has been timid to chastise the uncouth behaviour of senator judges and has allowed himself to be cowed to go against the manifestations of a slick and savvy lead prosecution counsel (in an interview by Karen Davila of ANC’s Headstart the lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas intimated that he once saved the chief presiding officer, JPEnrile from the case of rebellion filed by Cory’s government, also, Cuevas was the one who swore in Arturo Tolentino as president as a ploy so that Marcos can reclaim it when he comes back from exile; now that explains a lot of things). The impeachment proceedings having transformed itself into a three ring circus with feral felines clawing and roaring without a lion tamer is the fault of the presiding officer.
If it’s any consolation, the testy lady senator from Iloilo does not discriminate on the object of her affections or affectations. She has been on a ballistic spree and has been cutting down people on camera at every opportunity ever since god knows when.
Here are just a few examples of bad language from Miriam that would put to shame Tiger Woods’ demeanour and gutter utterances when trapped in a cavernous bunker:
Miriam told the prosecution that they are all “gago” and that all that they have been doing are “kagaguhan”. This led to one of private prosecution lawyers, Vitaliano Aguirre, to be cited in contempt for cupping his ears to avoid the shrill screams of the enraged Miriam. –Santiago reacting to state prosecutor’s cupping his ears while she was talking. From the Feb. 29 Impeachment proceedings
The fig leaf has to go
Told UP students who conducted a survey (503 sample size) to leave UP for displaying stupidity. The “Oblation” should take off his fig leaf, perhaps in reference to transparency when she asked them to reveal their backers. In the survey the results show that 75% voted to have Renato Corona resign from his post. — Santiago reacting to UP students’ survey on Renato Corona Feb. 29, 2012 Impeachment proceeding
“May I request the Chief Justice to discipline. Or, at the very least, admonish and reprimand this group that sees itself so high above the law.” —Santiago to Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. in 2001, during the impeachment trial of then President Joseph “Erap” Estrada. Santiago was irked by a group of spectators in the Senate gallery whom she claimed looked at her “provocatively.” The spectators were asked to leave the gallery.
“If you can’t find enough number of senators as a bloc, then bumili ka doon sa (buy some at the) House. Mas marami sila, di mas mura sila. Para silang mga talakitok (There are a lot of them, so they’re cheaper. They’re like fish).” —Santiago in full-on sarcastic mode in 2007, when her anti-billboard bill just got swept under the rug.
Don’t text While I Talk
“May I just say to those two girls there… Will you please stop smiling and looking at your cellphones. If you’re not listening to my speech, please step out! Now! Nakaka-insulto ang ginagawa ninyo sa Senado ng Pilipinas (What you’re doing is an insult to the Philippine Senate).” —Santiago to two women in the Senate gallery during her 2009 privilege speech, which criticized government officials who appeared in infomercials. The two women were, of course, asked to leave the gallery.
God’s Power of Attorney
“Who knows what God is? Who understands the mind of God? Who has a direct line to God so that he or she can ask God what is right or what is wrong. Pag sinabi mong Diyos at mali ang ginagawa ng iba ayon sa Diyos. Ikaw ang nagsasalita para sa Diyos. (You refer to God and you say there are other people doing things wrong according to God. Then you’re the one speaking for God.) I would like to see the appointment papers of the Black and White people from God, signed by God, appointing them, giving them powers of attorney.” — Santiago to Dinky Soliman, on December 14, 2011, at what would have been the confirmation hearing of the latter as Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary. Santiago had grilled Soliman and even asked her about her membership in the Black & White Movement, an organization of concerned citizens that was formed in 2005 primarily to call for the resignation of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Pa Epal Epal
“Therefore it behooves us to start with this principle: ‘Justice delayed is justice denied.’ Huwag na tayong magpa-epal dito dahil nawawalan ng gana ang nanonood. Tama na ‘yun. Dumaan na tayo doon (Let’s stop grandstanding because viewers are losing interest. Enough of that. We’ve been through that).” —Santiago on Day 5 of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment trial, on January 24, 2012, somewhat warning everyone not to waste time with rhetorics. Shortly after this, Santiago ended up berating Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. for not immediately knowing how many witnesses the prosecution team was going to present.
Incompetent and “Duwag”
“Tila hindi n’ya naintindihan and ginagawa n’ya, in which case incompetent s’ya. O alam n’ya pero pibapabayaan n’ya, in which case duwag s’ya (It seems that he doesn’t understand what he’s doing, in which case he’s incompetent. Or maybe he knows what he’s doing but he’s just letting things slide, in which case he’s a coward).” —Santiago talking about Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno in 2009. She was incensed because she thought he couldn’t control the so-called warlords in Maguindanao.
Flouting the Order of the Senate
“What kind of public officials are Secretary Gary Teves and Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez that they will not act on a cause of action that brings national embarrassment to the entire Philippine government in the international community? How dare they flout the order of the Philippine Senate? —Santiago talking about Department of Finance Secretary Margarito “Gary” Teves and Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez in 2009. She was enraged that they had snubbed a Senate hearing on the blacklisting of three Filipino contractors for alleged corruption.
The Honourable Spittoon Face
“I spit on the face of Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban and his cohorts in the Supreme Court, I am no longer interested in the position [of Chief Justice] if I was to be surrounded by idiots. I would rather be in another environment but not in the Supreme Court of idiots.” —Santiago reacting to her being disqualified from the nomination of candidates for Chief Justice position.
I Can Scream Can’t I
“Please don’t treat me as a mere observer. I am a judge in this proceeding! In any trial court, you should not speak, you should not take any behavior at all unless with the consent of the presiding judge. Don’t drown me out by screaming in this courtroom! Only I can scream here and my fellow judges!” — Santiago berating private prosecutor Arthur Lim, on January 25, 2012. Santiago was irritated that Lim once again brought up issues that had already been decided on by the court.
Miriam’s Sensitive Ears
“What the heck is so important? Is it going to change the configuration of the astrophysical universe? This is the last warning. I will cite you for contempt!” —Santiago to people whose cellphones kept ringing during a 2010 Senate session. Prior to the start of the session, Santiago had asked everyone to turn off their cellphones.
Gunfight at OK Corral
“I challenge the shadowy faces behind this corrupt media blitz. Come on you hypocrites, stop being sneaky. Be men, come out of the bushes, and reveal yourselves. Since you have chosen to engage in character assassination, let us have a showdown at the OK Corral in full view of the public.” —Santiago to her detractors at the height of the NBN/ZTE Broadband controversy in 2007.
She said she is not changing her personality for the countless and nameless faces who disapprove the way she talks and fires up, especially against people who challenge her.
”I cannot please all other people all of the time. I’m only addressing my own constituents, the university students and urban professionals,” she said, in characteristic “taray”, excluding the rest of the marginalized Filipinos who wallow in ignorance and poverty from the rest of what she considers as her kind of people; how elitist! what arrogance!
She said of her detractors, “This is a personality attack. They want me to change my personality. Hindi na possible ‘yan because I was born this way,” It’s just like saying that she was “pinanganak at pinaglihi sa sama ng loob”.
This as an excuse for antisocial boorishness, penchant for unbridled ad hominems and low regard of others including her peers is not acceptable and has no place in decent society. She should be exiled in an unpopulated desert island where cursing her existence and everybody else’s would be justified or encourage her to join an obscure cult whose abode would be the fastnesses of the mountain ranges of Afghanistan were communications would be limited to the occasional sounding of a highland horn blown by a Taliban terrorist.