A necessary waste of time

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Unless there is a sudden change of plans, suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles will face the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee today.

This will be the first time the general public will get to see what the “businesswoman” is really like. Previously, all the public had seen of her were a handful of videos attending social functions and lasting but a few seconds. There are also the photos, including the infamous mugshot of a seemingly stressed-out Napoles that has been used again and again for a variety of purposes.

Her mug has been turned into masks and has graced many an anti-pork rally.

And while the overwhelming majority of Filipinos have already passed judgment on Napoles—we surmise that 99 out of every 100 see her as guilty of plunder or grand larceny beyond a reasonable doubt—the people are still curious to know what she’s really like.


Not that she’s expected to charm the pants out of the senators and the public, but she can at least come across as something more than a supremely greedy woman who thought nothing of pocketing the people’s tax money, thereby depriving millions of poor Filipinos whatever help they could have gotten from non-government organizations funded by the Priority Development Assistance Fund.

Janet Lim Napoles is still a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend to many.

Unless she proves us wrong, there is in all likelihood more than a hint of humanity left in her. For one, she counts several Catholic priests as among her true believers.

Her appearance before the Blue Ribbon will not result in unexpected revelations. So say a number of lawyer-lawmakers who expect her to generally keep her mouth shut.

Napoles will most likely say that the committee hearing is not the proper place to reveal the truth. This is best done in a court of law.

Yet committee chairman Senator TG Guingona has also made known what he expects from her. She may refuse to incriminate herself, but she most certainly cannot refuse to answer some very basic questions that the Blue Ribbon needs to know. In aid of legislation, of course.

Most if not all of Napoles’s answers to the most sensitive questions will very likely elicit neutral replies, if she chooses to reply at all.

But all the while, she must be made aware that the people are watching every step she takes. The public will listen to every word that comes out of her mouth.

The people will then pass judgment on Janet Lim Napoles, and whether she ends up serving a life sentence or somehow is cleared of all charges relative to the pork barrel scam, the court of public opinion will have decided what kind of person she is.

At the very least, we can expect some tidbits of information from her that an information hungry media and public will relish. Such info may be mundane. Did she really give a P1 million pen to a senior lawmaker? How well does she know this or that family? Was she a donor to any political party in the last few elections?

Whatever she says or does not say, today and tomorrow, Janet Lim Napoles will be the big news. Perhaps even bigger than Typhoon Yolanda. Let’s see.

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