Nobody messes with Dick Gordon. And now the Senate plotters are in a world of pain.
By now, even Senators Leila de Lima, Antonio Trillanes and Franklin Drilon must realize that their star witness Edgar Matobato has bombed big time in the Senate. And with Senator Richard Gordon firmly at the helm of the committee that those three attempted to hijack and convert into an anti-Duterte soap box, it’s likely that none of the other witnesses they have in the pipeline will come forward anymore.
And it won’t be because the other witnesses that the DDS (for Drilon, De Lima and Sonny, as Senator Alan Peter Cayetano has christened the collective) may have lined up would be browbeaten, threatened or deliberately confused, even if they’re practically illiterate like Matobato. That’s what De Lima and Trillanes tried to imply, by the way, during the destruction of Matobato’s testimony upon questioning by Cayetano.
But the key, really, to the discrediting of Matobato was Gordon, who made sure that none of the senators on either side was able to use the justice committee to push their individual agendas. Not just Cayetano (who was admonished several times by the new chairman for arguing with the witness and employing other lawyerly tricks) but also De Lima and Trillanes (who attempted valiantly to coach the witness and to practically plead for clemency for him because of his supposed educational handicap).
Of course, I’ve always believed that Matobato’s testimony was full of holes. De Lima was just too biased a chairman and Trillanes too industrious a timekeeper and microphone-minder to allow the entire country to come to that conclusion, as well.
But the Senate DDS went over the line, which is why the chamber revolted and forced De Lima to step down. And because Gordon is Gordon, he would never allow the proceedings to go on the path that the three discoverers of Matobato had laid out for him.
Drilon, ever the wily politician, had already distanced himself from the disaster area that was Matobato, opting not to make his substantial presence at yesterday’s continuation of the witness’ testimony. But because De Lima and Trillanes are not as astute as Drilon, they still tried to steer the hearing in the direction they favored—and failed miserably because Gordon was watching the proceedings like a Subic hawk.
(At one point, Trillanes even attempted his usual off-mike antics, drawing the ire of Senator Panfilo Lacson this time. But Trillanes, being a bully, realized his mistake right away and sought to calm down Lacson, whom he had accused of trying to “confuse” the witness; I’m guessing Trillanes is not scared of Cayetano, but he sure as hell won’t pick a fight with Lacson.)
Stick a fork in Matobato, I said last week; he’s done. The Senate DDS should try again and call another witness who may—or may not—fare better.
But Sheriff Dick Gordon is in the house—or the new head of the Senate committee, really. Don’t push your luck.
* * *
“I don’t feel safe,” Leila de Lima announced yesterday, in a plaintive call for protection from those who (in her mind, anyway) are out to do her harm. Earlier, De Lima lamented that since her cellular phone number has been made public by the convicts who testified in the House against her, she has been receiving thousands of text messages that accuse her of the vilest things and call her the ugliest of names.
I’m sorry, Senator Leila, about the hate you’ve been getting. Now, will you please explain why convicted gang leaders in the New Bilibid Prison know your personal phone number?
I’m serious: Why would the personal phone number of De Lima be known to people like Jaybee Sebastian and Herbert Colanggo, people whom she was supposed to be tormenting as justice secretary? Does De Lima feel a lot safer if her phone number was known only to gangsters and other people that she was not supposed to have anything to do with?
De Lima’s public declaration of persecution reminded me of a campaign ad that she had made last March. In the ad, De Lima was in a prison much like Bilibid, seated at a table in the semi-darkness.
A man comes out of a nearby jail cell—a convict, presumably—and opens a briefcase in front of De Lima. The case is full of money, and De Lima reaches out for it.
But De Lima is actually hiding a pair of handcuffs, which she, in a quick, ninja-like move, clamps onto the wrist of the convict offering her cash. Presumably, the convict remains in jail—the handcuffs are the clue—but the ad doesn’t tell us what happened to the money.
Of course, the convicts to whom De Lima has given her cellphone number now say that, yes, they stayed in jail and, yes, De Lima kept the cash they offered her, as well. No wonder De Lima is so afraid of people knowing what only convicts knew about her before.