President Benigno Aquino 3rd was accused of hiding documents supposedly prepared by Janet Lim Napoles, particularly the list of lawmakers and other government officials who allegedly benefited from the pork barrel scam.
The stinging criticism came after the President admitted that long before Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and former Senator Panfilo ‘Ping” Lacson got their own copies of the Napoles list, he acquired a copy of the documents but did not announce it to the public.
“This is a grand plan to obfuscate the truth. Instead of hiding the list and obstructing the attainment of truth and justice, the President should be the first to divulge the list to the public,” Kabataan party-list Terry Ridon said on Monday.
Aquino admitted that he got a copy of the controversial list late Sunday.
Political analyst Ma. Lourdes Tiquia also questioned the timing of the President’s admission.
“I am alarmed at the revelations being made only today when the alleged pork scam has been with us for the past 12 months and 17 days to date. Why is this revealed only today? Who are those being protected by the President? How come the timing is so precise as to put question to the lists being subpoenaed by the Senate?” Tiquia said.
She added that by suppressing the information, Aquino ignored the people’s right to “reliable and timely information.”
“The fact that this information was hidden from the public is alarming and smacks of manipulation,” Tiquia said.
“The inaction of the President caused further injury to the public at large. The President should make his list public, along with all the other lists and allow concerned government institutions [to]perform [their]mandate unimpeded. Further, the President should certify the passage of the FOI [freedom of information]bill as an urgent administrative measure,” she added.
In an interview with reporters prior to his flight back to Manila from Myanmar where he attended a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Aquino confirmed having seen the first version of the list way before Lacson and de Lima got their own copies.
He said the documents were transmitted to him by the camp of Napoles.
But the President noted that the lists did not match.
“I think I have seen two [versions]and they don’t agree with each other exactly. And they are supposed to have come from Mrs. Napoles,” he said.
“[The] first one I think was transmitted to me, which I, in turn gave to Secretary de Lima. At that point in time, she [Napoles] didn’t want to talk to Secretary de Lima,” the President told reporters.
He said he gave the document to the Justice chief so she could evaluate it.
Aquino added that de Lima showed him the list she got from Napoles before the businesswoman had surgery at the Ospital ng Makati.
The third version of the list, he said, was brought up by Lacson when “we were discussing [Super Typhoon] Yolanda.”
“Now, [former senator]Lacson was telling me of another list given to him by relatives of Mrs. Napoles. And, again, there is a substantial detail there that doesn’t, again, agree with the other two,” Aquino said.
Lacson, according to the President, gave him “little highlights” but these were “not consistent with the other two [versions].”
Lacson on Monday said 21 senators were on the combined lists of Napoles and whistleblower Benhur Luy.
“Two senators are not on the list of Luy, and some are not on the list of Napoles,” he told a forum in Manila.
Lacson said of the 21, 12 are incumbent, including senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. Nine on the combined lists are former senators.
He added that about 90 former and incumbent congressmen are on the list of Napoles.
Lacson and Joker Arroyo were the only senators who did not utilize their priority development assistance fund or pork barrel.