Monthly Archives: June 2014

Genesis of the Napoles Expose

The pork barrel scandal, aka the Napoles pork barrel scandal, is far from being fully uncovered yet, already, it has implicated government officials numbering 200, give or take a couple of dozen, mostly with the rank of Representative of the Lower House or a higher position. This used to be the stratosphere “exempted” from accountability and punishment — the “untouchables.” Considering the massiveness of the scandal in terms of monetary amounts misused and pocketed, the number of high government officials involved in the scandal, and the voluminous incriminating documentary evidences in the hands of media and government, this is one genie that certainly will not make its way back into the lamp.

The expose started with some people’s greed — Benhur Luy & co. — attempting to enhance their share of the loot by “cutting into” their boss’ (Janet Napoles) own greed, resulting in a case of “serious illegal detention” and subsequently, retaliation in the form of whole sale snitching on the modus operandi of the Napoles group deeply involved in siphoning government funds through NGO’s and distributing the “booty” to participants involved in the wicked scheme. Going back to the genesis of this “morality play” among villains, it began with: the heavy and sensitive workload apparently assigned to Benhur; his familiarity, from years of experience, with the mechanics, intricacies, officials, and amounts of money involved; and, perhaps, seeing the large disparity between his share and that of his boss, he may have been right in feeling shortchanged and so made his move to “correct” it by attempting to go on his own and, eventually, compete with Napoles but, alas, got caught by the boss with incontrovertible evidence in the form of “electronically documented text messages,” akin to what happens nowadays to philanderers since the advent of cellular phones — pitfalls of a new technology. The betrayal got Napoles livid enough to have Benhur, her trusted righthand man, detained in one of her houses that was being used to accommodate priests from China who were in the country, temporarily, for a variety of reasons. (Janet was a generous donor to the Catholic Church in the form of cash and kind such as this.) So, in a sense, given the place and circumstances surrounding the detention, it was not too “serious” after all, even if, legally speaking, the length of time the victim was detained qualifies it as a “serious illegal detention” crime committed that is non-bailable. Never mind that the accommodations were comfortable and the form of detention, more like a “spiritual retreat” in the upscale Magallanes Village house shared with foreigners/priests who kept to themselves. The fact is, the confinement due to the falling out between Benhur and Janet led to the intervention of Benhur’s concerned family, the NBI, the Philippines Daily Inquirer, Secretary de Lima, Executive Secretary Ochoa, and no less than the President himself receiving the letter signed by Janet asking for his help from supposed NBI extortionists demanding millions of pesos from her. There probably was some truth to the extortion charges that included Luy, his sister and her BF at the time, their erstwhile lawyer, Atty. Baligod. But events got out of control and the proverbial “stink object” hit the fan and the rest is “history” that has yet to fully unravel, seemingly endless and and still bursting, not unlike a case of diarrhea, quantitatively and in the olfactory sense. Image

 

First to be accused and charged were Senators from the opposition whose pork barrel funds were funneled to NGO’s established and controlled by Janet Napoles, and then, allegedly distributed by Janet, in cash, to those that helped facilitate the scheme. The list of recipients of funds as kickbacks begins with the Senators themselves that chose the projects and recommended the respective NGO’s to be used. Others that shared in the loot were: staff members, lovers and wives of Senators (with or without the Senator’s knowledge, but potential primary suspects themselves); go-betweens; agents; and officials of government departments and government implementing agencies whose cooperation were needed in facilitating the transfer of funds from the Department of Budget to the implementing government agency concerned, finding its way to a Napoles NGO bank account and, finally, landing in Janet’s lap. And from there, armed with cash and new “project proposals,” Ms. Napoles let the good times roll, hoping, and more often than not, getting, a repeat from the legislators.

The gazillions of questions this sordid scandal poses are serious and include the President’s role in receiving a hard copy letter from Napoles dated the same day and acting on it the very next day, instructing his Secretary of Justice to assist and look into her complaints, this occurring weeks before the widespread scam became public knowledge. Question: is this the normal speed by which the President receives a letter — not by email — and responds to its’ request of assistance in less than 24 hours, this from a “total stranger” if, indeed, Janet was a stranger to him at that time as he has claimed? And then, of course, you have questions of: who else are involved; what about the other non-Napoles NGO’s numbering 82 compared to Napoles’ 10, engaged in similar nefarious activities as per COA findings; what of the other years yet to be investigated; how clean is COA, for that matter, in these affairs considering these activities managed to pass through under their noses “undetected” all these years; will everyone implicated be investigated; is there a coverup being implemented to protect high officials from both the Executive Branch including cabinet members, and the Legislative Branch, many of who are members of the Liberal Party — the President’s political party; were pork barrel funds (PDAF)and the unconstitutional DAP funds used in bribing Congressmen to sign, without first reading, impeachment charges against the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; were similar funds subsequently used to bribe, this time, the Senator-Judges to render a guilty verdict against CJ Corona which the overwhelming majority of Senators did — mission accomplished; will all guilty of whatever crime be punished? As to which of these questions and corresponding issues will be deemed containing the most egregious of crimes against the people will depend, most likely, on one’s political affiliation and bias and there again is the rub: everything is “politics” in this country where everything is “politics” — so called “country governed by laws and not by men.” That description is a delight to hear but we seriously doubt that to be the case.  Image

The scam being exposed now would not have been unveiled had Napoles and Luy come to an amicable settlement before the fireworks lit up the sky shining light below on the shameless shenanigans of Napoles, her associates, and everyone else involved in the fraudulent scheme. Just as ugly is the on-going aftermath filled with betrayals among the thieves; snitches galore; creation of scapegoats dead and alive; finger pointing; bribes to “fixers;” more fabrication of more fraudulent documents; erstwhile friendships chucked; and, in at least a couple of instances, spouses were said to be the culprits without the knowledge or full knowledge of their partners too busy being politicians. It’s like watching cockroaches scampering for cover, darting every which way, when a bright light is suddenly turned on in a dark and filthy room — the “paradise” of the cucaracha and the rat.

The next presidential elections being less than a couple of years away, makes the rendering of justice on crimes committed by high powerful government officials more likely to yield to political machinations if not outright bribery, than the likelihood of non-selective justice prevailing. The blindfold worn by Lady Justice, we suspect, may be of a see-through material and the scale she carries, calibrated to be unfairly partial to the weight of gold or a career promotion over evidence presented. Still, life goes on in a country, as yet, ruled by corruption and embedded in the culture (not nature) of its people. And, finally, to lighten things up a bit: make a guess who our next President will most likely be? Only one guess allowed — scout’s honor? Not funny!

 

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June 20, 2014 · 9:44 pm

Revilla’s “Mi Ultimo Adios” Not

Senator Bong Revilla sounded like he was saying his “last farewell” shortly before facing a firing squad. He thanked each one of his Senator colleagues with personal messages; tenderly spoke to his family members; addressed former presidents; paid a compliment to VP Binay; showered warm words on the film industry; and expressed profound gratitude to all 20 million Filipinos that voted for him  —   thank God no personal message for each of the 20 million voters. What followed  was a video clip about the senator — who else — produced to elicit as much pity, sympathy, and support from the TV viewers. images (4)The production was his opening salvo to his eventual arrest which we’re certain has been likewise scripted already, cognizant of continuity in theme and storyline of the aforementioned video clip. The showing of this rather humdrum “documentary,” cut to a song he himself sings whose lyrics are supposed to be a narration of his present predicament, was viewed by millions on TV. Showing it during his privilege speech hour speaks volumes of the kind of man Revilla is and how he views the world in general. He created a media opportunity to launch a “new look” for his defense that he hopes the masses will cling on to. It was a clever way of getting free media coverage for what was an obvious PR event. Problem with this new look is, for how long? As I said previously, he got rattled early on when his name first got dragged into the scandal as could be observed in the quick back and forth movement of his “emotional pendulum” swinging from arrogance, frustration, and anger, to fear, helplessness, and self pity. We’ll see how quickly his newly “acquired” current disposition changes from what this speech cum film depicted him to be: a positive, firm, “victim of oppression yet reaching out to his enemies”… and a unifying statesman/ leader. My guess is he will lash out again in anger and bitterness at the administration in no  time at all shedding this new image that may have looked good in paper but not in real life; it simply does not suit him.

Towards the latter part of his speech, he declared emphatically that he, too, had a “list.”  With studied pauses, menacing look, a mention again of the word “list” to build up the suspense (it didn’t), he proceeds with the punch line which was a list of those he wished to thank and number one on the list was God. He does not mind that a small percentage of the population that make up some media practitioners, the more informed intelligentsia, the educated, and the commonsensical people, see through his machinations and manipulative ways for as long as his influence on the large majority of the population remains strong. But even with this showbiz approach, the administration can easily challenge him in his own game because the Aquino’s, through their sister, Kris, have close ties with showbiz personalities and are partners, for all intents and purposes, with the Lopez family who are giants in the broadcast and entertainment industries. The Aquinos themselves are practitioners of “showbiz politics” and are adept at it . So, it doesn’t look to me that his choice of strategy was the ideal one for him which I’m sure his camp thinks it is. The prosecution has the most evidence gathered against him as compared to his co-accused that include bank records, wire transfers, and other documentary evidences — a bloody paper trail, in short. All that his political foes have to do, through the same medium of TV broadcast that he chose as his initial battleground, is: 1) juxtapose a portion of his speech where he professed undying innocence and guiltlessness with evidence to be dramatically presented by the prosecution during trial when the time comes; and, 2) repeat # 1 with every new piece of evidence presented in court while Revilla remains incommunicado in jail. The impact of an entire series of what he declared in his speech today contrasted with evidences proving his guilt and with him unable to respond, could spell his political death. For his song and dance number at the senate today, I would have to give him a grade of…. S – -Shallow.

 

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