Monday, May 19, 2014

Much ado about the Napoles list

By Val G. Abelgas
Leila De Lima and Janegt Lim Napoles (File Photo)
Leila De Lima and Janegt Lim Napoles (File Photo)
It has been almost three weeks since alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles handed over a written affidavit to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and despite persistent calls for her to make public the Napoles disclosures, De Lima has refused to do so, claiming that she still had to vet the allegations on the affidavit.
Former Senator Ping Lacson, the anointed rehabilitation czar who would rather join the pork circus than waste his time in Tacloban City, gave a clue as to why De Lima has refused to reveal the Napoles list of co-conspirators in the biggest government heist in history. He said the list contains the names of 16 senators and if revealed, would destroy the integrity of the Senate. He added the list also contains more than 100 government officials, including more than 80 congressmen, who are in both sides of the political fence.
Lacson’s revelations tend to affirm De Lima’s claim during the first week of the Napoles affidavit circus that revealing the list would lead to “mayhem.”
And to muddle further the controversy on the Napoles list, Sandra Cam, who heads an alleged association of whistleblowers – an aggrupation obviously unique to the Philippines – says she also has a copy of the list, whose source she refuses to reveal.
President Aquino also joined in the fray, saying he got a copy of the affidavit even before De Lima talked to Napoles on the eve of her surgery at the Ospital ng Maynila. Aquino also said he has seen copies of the two other affidavits – presumably the one held by De Lima and the other, the one possessed by Lacson – and said the list that he has and the lists held by Lacson and De Lima are not identical, casting doubts on their veracity.
The confusion over which list is credible and the resolute refusal of both De Lima and Lacson to reveal the list have led some sectors to believe that Napoles purposely gave different affidavits and lists to De Lima, Lacson and whoever the hell is to muddle the issue and confuse the people.
Aquino said Napoles was trying to muddle the issue, “to make the process much more difficult.” The opposition said Aquino is the one muddling the issue.
“What a lousy script. Now it becomes more obvious that the list is incriminating, so they have to muddle the issue and confuse the public,” said United Nationalist Alliance secretary general Rep. Toby Tiangco.
Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez dared Aquino to reveal the list and stop delaying its release to protect his allies. “Let the chips fall where they may, even if these include his allies,” he said.
The funny thing is that after she received the list from Napoles, De Lima said the affidavit seemed credible and that Napoles’ statements did not contradict any of the statements made by whistleblower and former Napoles financial officer Benhur Luy.
If she says Napoles is credible, why is she now saying that the statement has to be verified and the list vetted? Where is the consistency in that?
De Lima was quick to say that the three opposition senators who have been charged with plunder – Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla – were included in the list but was tight-lipped about the other 13 senators (who Lacson says include a high-ranking senator who got more kickbacks than Enrile, et al), 86 congressmen, some Cabinet officials and scores of other government bureaucrats who, according to Lacson, were in the list.
If Aquino were to be believed that the three copies that he had seen were not identical, then for goodness sake, throw those affidavits away! Otherwise, reveal all the lists and let the public – or at least the courts – decide on their veracity. Why should it be left to the discretion of De Lima to say which persons in the list were really involved or not? Isn’t this up to the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan to decide?
Anyway, in a recent series of articles published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer this week, it appears that Luy had in his possession – a copy of which he furnished the Inquirer – a hard drive containing 20,103 files held in 2,156 folders during the period 2002 to 2012.
The Inquirer said the hard drive was the reason Luy was illegally detained by the Napoleses (for which she is now detained while awaiting trial) on Dec. 19, 2012. Napoles allegedly demanded that Luy’s parents give them Luy’s laptop, not knowing that Luy had kept a copy of all the incriminating files.
From the files, the Inquirer discovered that close to 200 people, including lawmakers, department heads, a former Supreme Court justice, popular media personalities, heads of government-owned and -controlled corporations, government employees of various agencies, local government officials, lawyers, military officials, show-biz personalities, employees of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and private individuals received money from Napoles during the 10-year period.
The National Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Ombudsman obviously have been furnished a copy of the files, and yet until now have not made a final determination on the culpability of the persons involved in the anomalous transactions involving more than P10 billion funds from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Malampaya Fund.
Those Luy files should be more than enough to convict all those involved in the scam. After all, it was De Lima who said Napoles’ affidavit did not contradict any of Luy’s statements. What do they need Napoles’ affidavit for? I’m certain Luy’s file also has the names of those in Napoles’ list.
It has been more than a year since the scandal broke out. What’s keeping the Ombudsman from filing the formal charges against all the people in that file and the Sandiganbayan from going ahead with the trials? When will the government finally lift the burden of all the unresolved corruption scandals in the past and present administrations so that the nation can finally move on and move forward?

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