There are four-letter words and there are 4-letter words.

You are obviously familiar with the F-word.

Today at the Senate impeachment court hearing the case against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, a new four-letter word was introduced.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona

What was this new word?


Who introduced it?

The honorable gentlelady from Iloilo, Senator-Judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago. She even insisted that it be put on record.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago

What does it mean?

Waah’s meaning is defined by the proponent–in this case Defensor-Santiago.

She used it to express extreme exasperation and anger over the prosecution’s decision to drop five of the eight articles of impeachment it originally filed against CJ Corona alongside an announcement yesterday that it was resting its case. ¬†The prosecution also announced that it seeks a reservation to present evidence on Corona’s foreign exchange deposits as soon as the legal challenge to the confidentiality of these deposits was resolved.

Defensor-Santiago had an entirely different take on the matter.  She lectured that when the prosecution manifested resting its case, it should rest (in peace?) and cannot introduce new evidence.  In addition, she believed that dropping five of the eight articles of incorporation was unfair to the respondent since so much publicity was already accorded to the impeachment complaint.  She also chided that the move bespoke of a hasty and ill-prepared complaint.

In her anger, Defensor-Santiago used another four-letter word to characterize the House prosecution panel–the G-word.

The G-word is a familiar cuss word to us Filipinos. ¬†It does not have exact equivalents in English; the closest would be idiot, stupid, and fool (another four-letter word). ¬†A stronger version would be the letter A followed by another four-letter word–hole.

The ¬†use of the G-word is uncalled for and unparliamentary. ¬†To call members of another legislative chamber ‘G’ is a violation on intra-parliamentary courtesy. ¬†You cannot call them ‘G’ even if you believe that they are ill-prepared. ¬†Rep. Rodolfo Farinas asked that the G-word be stricken off the records and Defensor-Santiago agreed. ¬†However, she did not apologize for using the G-word.

The day was far from over. ¬†A private prosecutor, Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre, was caught on camera covering both his ears the entire time that Defensor-Santiago was speaking. ¬†A number of senators, led by Senator Jinggoy Estrada, saw Aguirre’s act as a sign of disrespect. The court’s presiding officer, Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile gave Aguirre to explain himself. ¬†Aguirre admitted that he covered his ears as an indication of protest because he was irritated by Santiago’s speech, specially her lecturing and disparaging remarks. He believed that respect was a two-way street.

Private prosecutor Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre

Apparently, Enrile expected Aguirre to apologize to defuse the situation.  However, the private prosecutor did not and the Senate voted unanimously to cite him in contempt and to ban him from the impeachment proceedings.

Because of two four-letter words, today’s impeachment proceedings are notably newsworthy.

  1. Mark Robert B Baldo says:

    Are there any stipulations, sir, in any law that would make the prosecution panel accountable for this unfairness? I hope there is.

    • bongmendoza says:

      Unfortunately Mark, I am not a lawyer and would not have knowledge of specific legal stipulations that could make the prosecution panel accountable. During her speech, Defensor Santiago appeared to be citing case law to this effect.

      My take as a political scientist is that there is no need for such a law. First because the impeachment is an act, not only of the prosecution panel, but of all who signed the verified complaint. Should 188 representatives be punished legally?

      Or should punishment be exacted through an adverse decision by the Senate impeachment court and, subsequently, through the ballot box in 2013?

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