Right suspect, wrong crime

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With a warrant for her arrest finally issued, it was not unexpected for Janet Lim Napoles to go into hiding. At least until her lawyers are able to post bail for her. Unfortunately for the “businesswoman,” the case filed against her is non-bailable.

Napoles stands accused of kidnapping a relative of hers who would later become the star witness in what has now come to be known as the “pork barrel scam,” wherein she allegedly pocketed billions of pesos in Priority Development Assistance Fund by putting up ghost non-government organizations.

This is not to downplay the crime of kidnapping, which is as serious as it gets. But it can be argued that the victim—being her relative—was in no real danger, at least not the same kind of danger that a kidnap-for-ransom victim is exposed to.

What the people would really like to see is for Napoles to be charged with the real crime that she appears to have committed—grand larceny that may as well be plunder.

We say “appears” only because everyone must be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, even Napoles.

But lawmen have long known that in most cases, going into hiding is considered proof of guilt. Why else would a person hide if he or she had not committed any crime?

Whether Napoles cheated the senators and congressmen of their pork barrel to the tune of P10 billion or whether the actual amount was much less, the evidence that has surfaced thus far indicates that Napoles is far from the innocent trader that she presents herself to be.

As for her tale that much of her wealth came from inheritance, this remains to be seen and there are sufficient records that will indicate whether she is telling a Paul Bunyan story or is speaking gospel truth.

Perhaps she should swear before a stack of Bibles in front of Cardinal Tagle that she is a legitimate businesswoman. The good cardinal can then take her to the most depressed areas in the country, areas where properly spent pork barrel could have improved the lot of the poorest of the poor.

It is these Filipinos who are the true victims of the pork barrel scam.

Napoles and her cohorts may congratulate themselves for their brilliance in being able to siphon off such huge sums for themselves. That they got away with the scam for so long says that Napoles and her silent partners were prepared to go on stealing billions indefinitely.

What did Marie Antoinette say about the poor who had no bread on their tables? Let them eat cake.

We have to wonder what Janet Lim Napoles was telling her associates as she pocketed such huge sums on a regular basis that otherwise should have gone to the most downtrodden, AKA the Great Unwashed: Let them wear Prada?

We cheer the Department of Justice for securing from the court a warrant for the arrest of Janet Lim Napoles. But we want the DOJ to file the big case against her, then use the best prosecutors to make sure she ends up where she belongs.

And we don’t mean Paris, Milan or New York either. We’re thinking more along the lines of a place called Muntinlupa.

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