Three years in power and President Benigno Aquino 3rd had nothing to say about legislators helping themselves to public funds by funneling pork barrel allocations to non-government organizations (NGOs).
It would take a whistle blower, Benhur Luy, to lay bare the scam, no thanks to the current administration, which by the way came to power on a promise to root out government corruption.
Chair Grace Pulido-Tan of the Commission on Audit (COA), an appointee of President Aquino, released a special report implicating senators and congressmen and executives of various government owned corporations in the scam. However, she did so after the media had already run stories on the case and the NBI was about to crack it.
Would Mrs. Pulido-Tan proceed with the expose, if Janet Lim Napoles, the woman behind those spurious NGOs, had not self-destructed?
Mrs. Napoles accused Luy of stealing P300,000. The real reason, according to Luy, was that she suspected him of setting up his own NGOs to partake of the pork barrel windfall.
That was the most probable reason for the falling out. The sorcerer’s—or the witch’s in this case—apprentice must have realized that this kind of business enterprise does not require a college degree or innate talent. All it needs is a passion to steal and, above all, a heart of stone.
There followed a terrible row, during which Luy must have blurted out that he could blow up the whole operation. Fearing he would make good his threat, she had him detained in one of her houses. That prompted him to seek help and spill the beans
There was no intention to stop the thievery, and understandably so. The President would alienate too many people some of whom were his allies.
One ally is Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. The COA special report identifies him as one of those who misused his PDAF allocations when he was a congressman.
Mr. Alcala, when he was appointed to his present position, allowed a lady undersecretary to remain at her post in spite—or maybe because—of the fact that she had a hand in the disbursement of pork barrel allocations in support of non-existent projects.
Come to think of it. Perhaps Senator Jinggoy Estrada has a valid reason to gripe. He and two other senators, Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., have been accused of funneling their PDAF to fake NGOs, for which, the charge sheet states, they received hundreds of millions of pesos in kickback
In his privilege speech, Mr. Estrada needled the administration for “selective justice.” He asked why wasn’t Congressman Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales charged when he appropriated for himself his whole PDAF allocation.
He could have said the same thing about Edgardo Angara, who as a senator created his own NGOs, and that’s where all his PDAF went. He hasn’t been charged either.
President Aquino, as a former congressman and senator, knew of the scam. He may not have fed at the trough, but he saw his colleagues do it. It is too much to expect him to do something about it then, but he could—and should—when he became president.
So what happened to the kung walang corrupt walang mahirap (nobody’ poor where nobody’s corrupt) campaign battlecry? Was he co-opted by the establishment? Did he join the feeding frenzy?
The President is not corrupt or greedy. So what stopped him from tackling the corruption right away? It was, we think, the enormity of the problem—practically every government official was involved in it in one way or another—that frightened him off.
He is basically a good man, and filthy lucre does not seem to interest him. However, he finds it hard to resist the blandishment of kaklase, kaibigan, kabarilan (classmates, friends, and shooting buddies). He should realize they are equally capable of committing the worst crime against the people, if not more so.