By Inquirer Central Luzon
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Kapampangan pride received either a boost or a beating depending on who you ask among the cabalen of Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid concerning his first-ever “performance” at the Senate impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
For a few minutes, the action star-turned-lawmaker, not exactly known for eloquence but more for his membership in the so-called committee on silence, rose confidently on Day 10 of the trial to throw questions in Filipino at a prosecution witness from the Security and Exchange Commission.
Lapid took to the floor on Wednesday at the time when he was in the media spotlight albeit for an entirely different case closer to home: His wife Marissa was charged with dollar smuggling in the United States last week.
Kapampangan musician Irwin Nucum was hardly impressed by what he saw. He dismissed as “insignificant,” for example, Lapid’s question on the difference between a “cash advance” and a “loan.”
The issue then was about the P11-million loan taken by Corona and wife Cristina from a supposedly inactive company owned by her family in 2003.
‘Gentleman from Pampanga’
“First of all, he himself should know the difference between the two terms,” Nucum said, adding that Lapid’s performance showed the level of his intellect.
“I felt ashamed when [Lapid] was called a ‘gentleman from Pampanga,’” he said.
“I wish he talked first with his chief of staff [before he rose to ask questions] so he could avoid becoming a laughingstock,” said lawyer Dante David. “I was hurt, and I felt pity for him.”
But for social worker Tess Briones, Lapid’s courage was admirable enough. “Whether he asked the right question or not, I was glad to see him stand up to ask questions,” she said.
For writer Caesar Lacson, Lapid was “good at being an exceptional comic relief in the trial.”
But for Lapid’s own lawyer, Ricardo Sagmit, it was a shining moment.
“He did very well. First of all, a company that has been dissolved cannot transact regular business. Second, upon his questioning, the matter of nondisclosure and betrayal of public trust came up,” said Sagmit, a member of the 1971 Constitutional Convention and lawyer of then Chief Justice Hilario Davide when the latter faced impeachment in 2003.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer tried to reach Lapid on Thursday, but the senator did not take the calls on his mobile phone.
In speeches delivered when he was still Pampanga governor, Lapid often recounted how he only finished high school because of poverty.
His father, Jose, a cameraman who doubled as a stuntman, died when he was young. His mother, Eleuteria, worked as a laundrywoman to support four sons and three daughters.