But that doesn’t mean he’s not telling the truth. In fact, the reverse is probably the case. Recovery is a process which demands rigorous honesty. As a recovering addict, a fact which he readily acknowledges , Joey is used to wrestling with his private demons and confronting painful truths on a daily basis. My point is that although his present conflict had become very public, he knows how to handle it. Which is one day at a time.
In any case, I find him more believable than the Palace flunkies and cronies who have been put on the defensive by his expose. Unable to convincingly defend the indefensible, they have resorted to mud-slinging and ad hominem attacks against Joey and others who dared question the NBN deal. But really, what justification can there be for an overpriced and redundant service already being provided by private enterprise ?
Don’t cry for Joey V. though. As I said, he’s honest and fearless, not to mention moneyed. He knows what he’s doing. Furthermore, he’s the son and namesake of a powerful politician. It had to take a De Vencia to bring this issue to the forefront of public consciousness and debate. Jarius Bondoc broke the story on the shady transaction awhile back, but it was not until Joey spoke up that the country started to pay attention. Moreover, he’s protected by the instinctive upper-class class response to treat one of its own differently, with more kindness and consideration, if not outright concern. This is apparent in the relaxed and polite, though probing, manner by which he was questioned by the members of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. They could joke and banter around with Joey, clearly “one of us”, who a number of them have probably known socially for years.
As pointed out by Dean Raul Pangalangan in his recent Inquirer piece:
Without the De Venecia testimony, these weighty issues might not have ignited public outrage. Contrast that to the drama of the Joseph Estrada trial, with the image of a “bayong” [big native bag] full of cold cash hand-carried by thugs to the “lord of all jueteng [underground lottery] lords.” This time, the thievery is far more suave, and players threaten one another in “coÃ±o English” in chic places.
In the Philippines, there is a class divide even in the treatment of witnesses. The Estrada trial flourished because of witnesses like the warlord Chavit Singson, who is a “Witness Protection Program” on his own, and the bank vice president Clarissa Ocampo, who has her own built-in credibility as a professional. In contrast, who remembers those witnesses against MalacaÃ±ang in all the past scandals? The low-level minions have either recanted and apologized or been shredded to pieces, like T/Sgt. Vidal Doble earlier this week.
And then the young De Venecia came, with all the advantages of both Chavit and Clarissa. Hence the vicious attacks on his character, because the NBN debate is at its core a battle for the hearts and minds of the Filipino public. “
Now for a little gratuitous name-dropping.
Watching the NBN Senate hearings on T.V., it dawned on me that here was the “six-degrees of separation” concept in operation. This refers to the idea that if a person is one “step” or “degree” removed from a person who he or she knows personally, every single person on earth is, on the average, no more than six degrees away from each other. American psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment to prove this in the 1960s, thus providing solid scientific data that we are all interconnected. This is commonly referred to as the “small-world” phenomenon.
And what a small world it is. I realized that I have more than a nodding acquaintance with many of those involved in the NBN controversy. This would include Joey, Senators Cayetano, Escudero, Defensor, and Pangilinan. Undersecretary Amboy Formoso was a college batchmate. Jarius Bondoc and wife were college contemporaries. And others a few degrees or so removed from me. And this is not just because we move in the same social or professional circles. I interacted with them at different stages of my life and met them through different social networks.
And as I, a fat, middle-aged corporate drone, sit in my ratty sofa and undershirt, watching them on T.V., I feel a twinge of envy in that they appear to be living more eventful lives. I wish I could have a direct part in the unfolding drama. A good speaking part, with an opportunity to grandstand, but in a tasteful, low-key manner as befitting my stature. Sighing, I switch off the tube and drag my sorry carcass off to bed, perchance to dream.