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Friday, May 16, 2014

Noynoy, Abad among 2004 fertilizer scam recipients; GMA exonerated



GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star)

“The police must keep peace and order in our communities, and protect us citizens from criminals and bad elements.” — Press Sec. Sonny Coloma, on the drive-by shootings of five persons by two motorcyclists predawn last Sunday on Commonwealth Avenue, QC, and the unrelated killing of two others nearby.

Sir, we already know what the police’s duty is. Tell us something we don’t know. Like, why is the National Police not combatting the daily strikes of guns-for-hire riding-in-tandem all over the land.

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“There are only three senators and five congressmen in (Janet Lim) Napoles’ affidavit submitted to (Justice) Sec. (Leila) de Lima, the same eight already facing charges.” — Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, downplaying other lists of over a hundred pork-barrel plundering lawmakers, mostly administration allies.

Sir, we’d like to believe you. But explain these first: If there are no new names in the list of de Lima, then how come she says there are more but can’t disclose them till she verifies the narratives? How come she says she’s losing sleep over the list? How come she’s taking so long — more than three weeks now — to divulge it?

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“I apologize if we couldn’t act even faster,” President Noynoy Aquino, last March 12, four months after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck, on why it took national agencies nearly a week to aid four million families left unsheltered and unfed.

Sir, we’ll let your use of “if” instead of “that” pass, although it betrays your reluctance to take fault for it, as further shown by your insertion of “even,” as if to say you already were fast.

But what words would you now have for the report that today, six months later, the government has built only 50 houses for the one million families rendered homeless? What words, for the Executive’s spending only P3.7 billion out of the P100 billion rushed out by Congress, enough to erect those million homes, Habitat for Humanity-type at P70,000 each, with P30 billion to spare for roads, drainage, and community centers?

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Very few things can be worse than Gloria Macapagal Arroyo being exonerated from the P728-million fertilizer scam of 2004? One of them is that Noynoy Aquino and Butch Abad, then-congressmen of Tarlac and Batanes, are in the list of recipients of the Arroyo admin’s plunder.

Arroyo of course is no longer President. Aquino is, with Abad his ideological guru, budget secretary, and concocter of the presidential pork barrel, the Disbursement Acceleration Program. It was Aquino who used presidential clout in driving out of office an independent Ombudsman, to install instead the retired Supreme Court justice Conchita Carpio Morales. Aquino then also drove out of office a co-equal Chief Justice, who once tormented Carpio Morales. Those expulsions were for cause, so deserved, to be sure. But the events cannot be but brought up, now that Carpio Morales has cleared Arroyo of the plunder from which Aquino and Abad allegedly benefited.

Lack of evidence is the reason for exoneration. Supposedly the complainant, one-time solicitor general Frank Chavez, now deceased, had failed to link Arroyo directly to the distribution of the P728 million to allied congressmen, governors, and mayors. Only Arroyo’s agriculture secretary then, Luis Lorenzo, and Usec Joc-joc Bolante, allegedly doled the money one week before the presidential-congressional-local election campaign began.

It’s unconceivable that Lorenzo, scion of an agri-conglomerate, and Bolante, officer of Rotary International, would operate without the clearance of their candidate-boss Arroyo. But the Ombudsman did not pursue such crucial angle. It simply fell back on its earlier ruling: Col. George Rabusa’s alleged insufficient proof against plundering generals, to let a string of Armed Forces chiefs off the plunder hook. So much for the Ombudsman’s duty to motu proprio, on its own, investigate and dig up evidence of official corruption.

What if all the recipient politicos, led by Aquino and Abad, then deny having received P5-million share each of the fertilizer fund, despite testimonies of whistleblowers, two of whom since assassinated? That’s not far-fetched; today senators cry forgery of their signatures by trusted aides, in the face of strong evidence of pork-barrel thievery. In fact, nobody is compelling the fertilizer fund partakers to account for their shares. Will they all then be cleared like Arroyo, with Lorenzo and Bolante to follow? Not far-fetched either; the justice department has made a state witness out of multibillion-peso “pork” fixer Ruby Tuason, and is mulling the same for mastermind Janet Lim Napoles. Not to forget, self-asserted super-lawyer Sixto Brillantes, despite being Comelec chief, has let to lapse the period to prosecute ex-commissioner Virgilio Garcillano for election sabotage that 2004, in cahoots with — again! — Arroyo.

Is there no justice, hence the daily riding-in-tandem killings, the blatant sanitizing of “pork”-plunderer lists, and the unwillingness and inability to shelter the disaster-stricken?

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459, or The STAR website http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA

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