FROM the latest news about the P10-billion PDAF or pork barrel scam, the plight of its alleged principal perpetrator, Janet Lim Napoles, and how government has been handling the case, it now looks like Napoles has the moral high ground.
One holds the moral high ground always relative to another claimant. Here the other person is no other than Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima—representing President Aquino—DBM Secretary Florencio Abad, Senate President Drilon, etcetera.
The issue that has emerged of late is that Mrs. Napoles, feeling intimations of mortality (because some powerful people who might actually be the real masterminds of the scam would want to silence her and also because her life-threatening operation required her to be ready to face the Almighty) prepared an affidavit telling the whole truth and nothing but, so help her, God.
Nothing should have been simpler. With Mrs. Napoles opening her soul, the truth would be revealed in full about the outrageous theft of money allocated as pork barrel funds meant to redress the poverty of needy Filipinos.
Not only the three opposition senators—Enrile, Estrada and Revilla—would be known to the people as malefactors but also every one who participated in the unconscionable creation of fake non-government organizations (NGOs) to which hundreds of millions (totaling more than P10 billion) was given. For surely, not only Enrile, Estrada and Revilla must have benefited from money that was for the food, clothes and medicines of destitute families.
The NGOs were fake and non-existent except on paper and so were the beneficiaries. But the money was easily obtained—with the senators and congressmen making requests for the release of their pork barrel allocations and with the executives of the Department of Budget and Management approving the requests and then releasing the checks.
One of the revelations the conscience-stricken and God-chastised Mrs. Napoles made in her affidavit was who her “mentors” were. And who among the senators and congressmen actually participated in the grand scam and received their hefty share of the corruptly obtained pork barrel money.
Of course, just as in the entertainment industry, there grew a public clamor for Secretary de Lima to publicize the names Mrs. Napoles had written down in her affidavit. But she has refused to heed the public demand.
So suspicions grew that she was sanitizing Mrs. Napoles’ affidavit, to ensure that only opposition senators and congressmen would be named as players and sharers of the scam money.
Manila Times Chairman Emeritus Dr. Dante A. Ang wrote in his April 28 article “Napoles affidavit, a whitewash in progress,” that a source told the Times that the “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).’ “
The affidavit is being produced because Mrs. Napoles wants to be treated as a state witness.
Why delay the publication of the sworn statement?
Dr. Ang wrote 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.”
But Secretary de Lima has to be careful about sanitizing the affidavit.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, despite being a member of President Aquino’s official family as the Yolanda Disaster Rehabilitation czar, has a copy of one of the 1st versions. He hates the pork barrel. He never touched his. Jimmy Napoles himself (Mrs. Napoles’ husband) gave Ping Lacson a copy of an early version of the affidavit. Mr. Lacson threatens to reveal what is in the affidavit copy that he has if the document that is finally made public is a sanitized version.
Morally concerned Filipinos want everyone involved, whether opposition party leaders—like Enrile, Estrada and Revilla— or allies of President Aquino, to be prosecuted. That is why there is a public demand to open Mrs. Napoles’ list of scam participants.
Affidavit not yet finished?
But the latest news, which came out on April 30, is that Secretary de Lima and the National Bureau of Investigation are claiming that in fact the “Napoles affidavit is not yet finished.”
A report by Marlene Alcaide of News5, published by InterAksyon, the online portal of TV5, says: “The Department of Justice and National Bureau of Investigation have yet to complete the affidavit of Janet Lim-Napoles, the businesswoman accused of engineering the pork barrel scam.”
The reason DOJ and the NBI gave is that their “personnel tasked with taking her statement are allowed a maximum of only two hours every time they visit Napoles at the Ospital ng Makati, where she remains confined after undergoing major surgery on April 23.” The report says DOJ and NBI “are considering alternatives to taking Napoles’ complete statement without needing to visit her often.” Among the options mentioned by Secretary de Lima is to ask Mrs. Napoles to write the affidavit herself.
This piece of news gives Mrs. Napoles the moral high ground. After all this time, the DOJ and NBI still have not finished the affidavit? Only now are they thinking of making her write it herself?
What about the version of the document that Jimmy Napoles gave former senator Lacson? In our mind, that is the true version of the facts that Mrs. Napoles wants to face Almighty God with. Why does that version need amending?
Another news item that gives Mrs. Napoles the moral high ground—vis-à-vis Secretary de Lima, President Aquino, Secretary Abad and Senator Drilon—is the one that came out in the Inquirer also on April 30 under the headline “Admin allies implicated in Napoles affidavit—lawyer.”
The PDI story says that Atty. Bruce Rivera, Napoles’ counsel, made the statement over Inquirer Radio 990AM. He said in answer to a question that they in the Napoles side have told Sec. de Lima that the affidavit to be released must “definitely” have the names of administration allies.
The lawyer, the PDI report said, expressed confidence “De Lima would not ‘sanitize’ Napoles’ affidavit on the pork scam.
Maybe his confidence is misplaced. Why is Sec. de Lima claiming that the affidavit is not yet finished?