There are grave reasons to worry. President Benigno Aquino 3rd and his allies are tempting the gods. They are courting a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.
Unfolding events point to a whitewash of the P10-billion PDAF scam. A highly placed source close to the Napoles family who requested anonymity disclosed to The Manila
Times over the weekend that Napoles’ affidavit will undergo yet another revision. It will be re-written ostensibly to free some of the principal players in the scam from criminal prosecution.
“May pinababago. Konti lang. (Some changes are being ordered. Just a few),” said our source.
He also clarified an earlier statement he gave The Times, saying the list we wrote about on Monday was actually on Napoles’ unsigned affidavit. Like former senator Panfilo Lacson, DOJ Secretary de Lima was also provided an unsigned document.
The reason is pretty obvious. All this talk of Napoles coming out with a signed and notarized sworn statement is a calculated gambit for her to gain leverage. She felt the urgent need to talk to de Lima about her affidavit only after she saw that her “mentors” and friends in the Palace and in both Houses of Congress had abandoned her. She blames them for her having contracted a urinary tract infection (UTI) while in Santa Rosa jail facility. “|Kasi marumi ang facilities. (Because the facilities are dirty),” our source narrated. Napoles also said her prolonged stay at the PNP Santa Rosa training camp had complicated her health and contributed to her worsening condition.
Her petitions to be put under hospital arrest and for a change of detention venue were all thumbed down by the courts, because, she felt, her “mentors” and friends did nothing about it. And then as talk of her becoming a state witness was fast losing traction, she had to unsheath her “Damocles sword” to send a powerful message to her “mentors” and the Palace. Either they come to her “rescue” or else. And it now appears she is winning the battle of nerves.
So that the only logical explanation why Napoles and de Lima have not yet released the sworn statement to the public could be that she and the government are yet to agree on what “favors” can be extended her in exchange for a sanitized version of her statement.
As a quid pro quo, her petition for hospital arrest will be granted. The DOJ can cite the cases of former Presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as precedents. The other request for a change of venue might also be granted citing security reasons. The most contentious issue would be her demand to be a state witness.
If and when Napoles becomes some kind of a state witness, she will not go for the jugular, so to speak. Meaning, she will not force the DOJ to recommend that she be given immunity from suit. She is resigned to the fact that she would have to serve time. That is why, according to our source, she will content herself with a reduced sentence of, say, two to five years in jail.
He said Napoles is still waiting for de Lima’s clearance. In all likelihood, when de Lima finally releases the document to the public, it would have been already rewritten and sanitized, clearing her “mentors” and Presidential allies. They will come out of the Napoles caper smelling like roses.
Only the three opposition senators will be hailed to court. The Palace and the DOJ will have come up with some verbal contortions to explain why the “mentors” originally named in the Napoles affidavit were not included in the charge sheet. It will take some doing but trust Malacañang to come up with some justifications regardless. Some members of the Liberal Party and Palace allies will be “sacrificed” and charged along with the three senators, but not to worry, they too, will be exonerated in the end.
The judicial decision to absolve the members of the administration party should happen before Aquino steps down from office in June 2016. There are two problems with that though.
First, the people have already formed their conclusions that the three plus one of the “mentors” and Presidential allies are guilty and that any attempt to clear them would be nothing but a barefaced whitewash.
Second, their cases will surely be reopened when the new President comes in on June 30, 2016 or two years from now.
And Napoles? Well, she will be in a deeper rot when that happens. Nothing will save her from the wrath of the Filipino people. The people will be unforgiving this time and uncompromising if she refuses to come clean by baring everything she knows about the schemers and her “mentors.”
There’s a distinct possibility that Vice President Jejomar Binay will be elected President in 2016. Assuming he succeeds President Aquino, he will be forced to bow to public pressure to pursue the P10-billion PDAF scam vigorously and objectively.
Regardless of his loyalty to the Aquino family, the people’s frustration, anger and heightened public emotion will force Binay to reopen the cases against those behind the scam.
From Rome, Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal has reportedly called Manila and talked to a layman for an update on Napoles and the P10-billion PDAF corruption case. The bishops and clerics who were in the Vatican to witness the canonization of Pope John 23rd and Pope John Paul 2nd discussed the the P10-billion PDAF scam. The cardinal, according to The Times source, would be hurrying back to the Philippines for fear that the issue might morph into a national catastrophe.
In all likelihood, the Catholic Church will be issuing a pastoral letter soon, the source added.
In a function over the weekend, de Lima casually approached the President and confidently told him that the Napoles’ affidavit will be released to the public very soon, our source said. Her confidence must have some basis, he added. The Napoles affidavit will be rewritten and the language will be “softened” to clear the names of her “mentors.”
But there’s still another problem with that. Former senator Lacson has a copy of the first original draft affidavit given him by the spouse of Janet Lim Napoles. Any changes in the document, particularly if the new version absolves the “mentors” and the allies of the President, would trigger Lacson’s release of the Napoles statement to the public as Lacson had warned he would do.
When that happens, all hell will break loose. And Lacson? Well, it is highly possible he might resign from the Cabinet over the issue of the P10-billion PDAF scam. Sayang.
One of the only few no-nonsense member of the Cabinet, it would be a pity if he leaves the Cabinet over the President’s betrayal of public trust.
What about civil society and the true non-government organizations (NGOs)? There will again be mass protests and street demonstrations. Both Houses of Congress will be rendered inutile. They would have lost their remaining relevance and people will demand their abolition.
The President cannot escape responsibility. He, too, will be pilloried. Calls for his resignation will escalate with no clear ending. But the bigger problem for the President would be what happens after he steps down from office. The twin issues—P10-billion PDAF scam and the Development Acceleration Program fund (DAP) —will be revisited. He will find himself hailed to court, arrested and incarcerated for being a complicit in a crime against the Filipino people.
And for what? For Napoles’ “mentors?” For the “Pork King?” For the Palace thieves? For his allies in the Senate and Congress?
Would the President allow the images of his saintly mother, the late President Cory, and his father, the late senator Benigno Aquino Jr., tarred, because he has coddled and shielded the crooks in his own party?
Time to wake up, Mr. President.