Nearly for a year since the pork-barrel scam was exposed, we were barraged with one message: The five senators who stole taxpayers’ money through alleged mastermind Janet Napoles’ scheme were Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla, and on a lesser scale, Ferdinand Marcos and Gregorio Honasan — all opposition figures.
Top criminals of course have aliases, so the first three were dubbed, “Tanda,” “Payat,” and “Pogi, ” respectively by a disrespectful BenHur Luy, allegedly the main whistleblower. Strangely, though, Luy could not claim that he had ever met personally the three senators, much less hand over to them the dirty money.
Lists got longer and longer. (Click image to enlarge.)
Obviously to correct that weakness in Luy’s testimony, another “star” witness. Ruby Tuason—now from the upper class, unlike Benhur—testified that she herself had delivered the graft money to Estrada himself at his Senate office and to Enrile through his chief of staff lawyer Jessica “Gigi” Reyes. Enrile in effect confirmed he knew what was going on when he fetched Reyes at the restaurant where she met with Tuason for the pay-off.
The barrage of alleged details on the amounts received by the three as their lions’ share in the scam in the Senate hearings was aimed at debunking the three accused’s defense: That these exposes were merely President Aquino and his camp’s plot to politically assassinate them to stop them from running either for the presidency and the vice-presidency in 2016.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima tried to debunk that claim by saying that her office and the Ombudsman would “soon” file charges against a second batch of legislators involved in the scam. Indeed, de Lima released information on the involvement of members of the House who were also involved in the pork-barrel scam, such as Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon when he was Muntinlupa congressman.
But so many months have passed since de Lima made those claims. The game plan seems to be to delay the filing of those new charges until the 2016 election season, with Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla so damaged that the latter two won’t dare run for office.
But as that famous quote goes, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” Or in this case, make that rats and men.
For some reason, the operator of the pork barrel scam, or at least one of the operators, Janet Lim-Napoles, just before her hysterectomy, summoned Justice Secretary de Lima and revealed to her in the course of five hours more details on the scam, and all of the politicians who were her accomplices and mentors.
The public of course didn’t know of that secret meeting. But we a have a blabbermouth of a justice secretary, because as revealed only the other day , she plans to run for the senate in 2016. She called the reporters covering her, and claimed that Napoles revealed to her — and only to her — a list of politicians involved in the scam, and how much they made.
De Lima said Napoles even signed an affidavit on what she revealed to her.
De Lima ran to her boss Aquino right after her meeting to report to him Napoles’ revelations. I can imagine she told Aquino: “Now I know something that could embarrass you, but I could be very cooperative, and sanitize the Napoles list. What do you want me to do, Boss?”
De Lima of course was being played by Napoles, who apparently had a copy of her affidavit, although unsigned — together with the list — given to Senator Panfilo Lacson by her husband a month earlier.
Lacson of course jumped at the opportunity of being in the limelight by telling the world that he seems to be such an honest man as to be trusted by Napoles’ husband with the list. Just a bit of public pressure, and of course Lacson jumped to publicly disclose the list and gave a copy to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.
Hey guys, we were the ones who scooped everybody, and had the list before anyone heard of a pork-barrel scam, the newspaper Philippine Daily Inquirer seemed to say.
The newspaper’s Nancy Carvajal, who has suddenly become the country’s top investigative journalist with her exclusive pork-barrel exposes, reported that Benhur’s family gave her a copy his computer’s hard-drive on April 27, 2013, more than a year ago, which contained the details of how much was given to whom in the pork-barrel scam. Based on the data in the hard-drive, Carvajal came up with new list of incumbent and past senators involved in the scam.
Not to be outdone, de Lima the next day claimed that the National Bureau of Investigation she heads was also given a copy in May 2013.
Aquino himself proved to be a blabbermouth. Asked about the list, he said in a press briefing May 12 that the one given to her by de Lima had discrepancies from the one given to her by Napoles when she surrendered in August last year, or eight months later.
De Lima and Aquino’s revelations brings us to the incontrovertible conclusion:
Based on the data that they were given so many months ago (Luy’s hard drive data in de Lima’s case, and what Napoles gave to Aquino last August) the two had knowledge of the involvement of at least 20 other incumbent and past senators, and about 90 congressmen, which included the President’s allies and supporters. Napoles also would have most likely told them of Abad and Alcala’s complicity.
Why didn’t Aquino and de Lima release this serious package of information to the public? Why did they focus only on the five opposition senators as if they were the only persons involved in the enormous pork-barrel scam?
Was this the reason why Aquino had to meet with Napoles personally in Malacanang when she surrendered in August, to tell her she will be taken cared of well if she didn’t reveal to the public his Cabinet members, especially budget secretary Florencio Abad, and his allies in the Senate who were her accomplices in the pork barrel scam?
Locked up in a dingy room in a police camp for nine months and deprived of medical service she required and can pay for, did Napoles feel that Aquino had not complied with his part of the deal, and therefore she had all the right to rat on the president’s people involved in the scam?
A yellow journalist in a TV talk show defended Aquino and de Lima, claiming that the three senators were just unfortunate to have been included in the first batch of legislators to be charged. But that plan for succeeding batches to be charged has not materialized at all after so many months.
Another argument is that the three earned the biggest loots out of the scam, and against whom a lot of evidence were available.
But do we really know that, given that the reports publicly released could have been tampered with, and we do not have access to Luy’s files given to de Lima and the Inquirer? Does the anti-graft law discriminate as to the amounts stolen from taxpayers’ money?
I don’t think it has dawned yet on Aquino and de Lima that what they did — not disclosing the names of legislators and Cabinet members Napoles accused of involvement in the pork-barrel scam — is, by our Penal Code, a criminal case of obstruction of justice.
For that de Lima not only could be removed form office but even disbarred from ever practicing law. For Aquino, his obstruction of justice is a case of culpable violation of the Constitution, for which he can be impeached out of office.And he thought he it was a brilliant plot to jail the corrupt at the same time perpetuating his power.