Smoking gun of Aquino’s complicity in pork-barrel scam

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In his attempt to demonize the Estradas so there won’t be an “EDSA Tres” backlash when Senator Jinggoy Estrada is thrown to jail this week, President Aquino may have inadvertently provided us with what is nearly the “smoking gun” of his complicity in the pork-barrel scam, or at least of his closeness to Janet Lim-Napoles.

This is Napoles’ letter last year to Aquino asking for his “assistance” in fighting the extortion attempt against her and her brother by the National Bureau of Investigation officers together with one at-that-time obscure lawyer Levito Baligod and ex-general Rodolfo Diaz.

The letter was dated (and received by Aquino) April 17, 2013. This was more than three months before Napoles’ staff-turned-rat Benhur Luy, with his office-mates and accompanied by Baligod as their lawyer, went in July to the Philippine Daily Inquirer to begin their trial-by-publicity barrage against the alleged “pork-barrel queen.”

Aquino on June 5, last week, read one portion of it referring to ex-general Diaz, to imply that the Estradas were involved in the extortion try through him, as he was Presidential Security Group commander during President Estrada’s administration.


Aquino had his aides photocopy the letter he had read. They distributed it to the press. The letter is actually very revealing, a virtual smoking gun not only showing Aquino’s closeness to Napoles, but also pointing to the grand plan to nail down leaders of the opposition while portraying it as his promised campaign against corruption.

Napoles letter to Aquino. Received the same day she wrote it, and received by his “Private Office.”

Napoles letter to Aquino. Received the same day she wrote it, and received by his “Private Office.”

A copy of the same letter was leaked nearly a year ago (see accompanying photo). But that copy was unusually without any marks, that is, with no footprints, as it were, on its delivery to the President.

Not so with the letter Aquino himself released last week. I hope the original letter, together with its attachments or notes, is preserved, as it would likely be evidence to support the accused senators’ defense that the charges against them are in fact political persecution of the opposition, and not the outcome of an anti-graft crusade.

Received: ‘Malacañang Private Office’

First, the letter was stamped on the right-hand corner as received on the same day April 17 (and at 3 p.m., way before offices closed) that Napoles wrote the letter. Second, as is indicated in the stamp on the upper left corner (which is partly obscured), the letter was received by “Malacanang, Private Office.”

The “Private Office” is one of the four offices under the President specified in the 1987 Administrative Code. The Code even defines what it is in its Title III, Chapter 9, Sec. 24: “Functions of the Private Office. – The Private Office shall provide direct services to the President and shall for this purpose attend to functions and matters that are personal or which pertain to the First Family.”

The obvious question: Why would Napoles’ letter be received by Aquino’s innermost sanctum dealing with “matters that are personal or which pertain to the First Family.”

For the President to receive in his Private Office in a day’s time a letter from an obscure “businessman” should be virtually impossible.

Most letters are received either by a third-tier unit in the Office of the Executive Secretary, the Correspondence Office in Malacañang, the Presidential Management Staff, or though department secretaries, presidential advisers and assistants. If ever it does, a letter from a private individual gets to the President’s attention only after no less than three days. Most of the time however, it is processed—replied to or referred to the appropriate department or agency—by the Executive Secretary’s office or the Presidential Management Staff.

There is only one way for a letter to reach the President within a day’s time: For a Cabinet secretary, a Presidential Adviser or assistant, or somebody personally very close to the President to personally hand it over to him, face to face, or to his close-in-aide. It is also only through these intimate means that a letter is filed with the Private Office, as in this letter of Napoles to Aquino.

The questions Aquino must answer: How did the letter get to him in such a very short time? If it was delivered to his Private Office or handed over to him, who did so?

Or did Napoles herself personally know Aquino, that she made deals with him, that she could call him to say that she has a very urgent, life-or-death kind of letter for him, and the President would have said that he would read it as soon as he got it?

What did Aquino do?

The answers are crucial. For example, was it Budget Secretary Florencio Abad who delivered the letter, who is somebody Aquino would meet at the drop of a hat? If so, this would confirm Napoles’ allegations of Abad’s involvement in the scam.

The other big question as crucial to unearthing the truth of this entire pork-barrel issue that has consumed the nation: What did Aquino do with the letter?

The letter released by Aquino concealed what action he took.

Aquino’s action would have been indicated in a note stapled in the upper left-hand part of the letter that I have circled. But we have only the marks left by the staple wire.

His action also could have been indicated by his marginal notes, and there are black blotches on the copy of the letter, which could have been the borders of the part of such notes blocked off when it was photocopied.

Aquino’s response to Napoles’ letter could have only been three:

1) “Sec. de Lima, please investigate.” This would have been the response of a President who wasn’t involved in the pork-barrel scam or who did not know Napoles.

In fact, one theory that had been circulating even late last year is that after receiving Aquino’s order, de Lima asked her closest staff to investigate the allegations.

Panicking, the accused NBI officials and Baligod retaliated by getting Luy and company to reveal to the Philippine Daily Inquirer the pork-barrel accusations in order to turn the tables on Napoles, and even extort money from some of the many legislators accused in exchange for deleting their names from Luy’s files.

2) “Butch, let’s talk about this with SP.” And what would Aquino talk about with Budget Secretary Abad and Senate President Franklin Drilon?

This: That since they knew what Napoles’ pork barrel scam was, and since the Commission on Audit special report on the abuse of pork barrel funds would soon be made public, the Liberal Party could exploit the issue by focusing on the three opposition leaders—Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon Revilla—as the greediest of the lot. This would demolish their ambitions to capture the next administration.

Their arrest and jailing for plunder charges would also bolster the Aquino team’s propaganda as anti-graft crusaders.

3) Aquino could have called Napoles herself to tell her: “Don’t worry, I’ll do what I can.”

Impossible?

That could have been the reason Napoles was even brought to Malacañang to talk to Aquino when she surrendered, why her gait at the Senate hearing showed inexplicable confidence.

But then why would Aquino charge her with plunder now? The answer would be the same to the question: Why would Aquino want to jail Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla without whom he couldn’t have removed Chief Justice Corona?

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18 Comments

  1. That is, indeed, a smoking gun as can be gleaned from the swiftness of the reaction of no less than the President and the Justice Secretary, acting on it the same day it was written and delivered. Only a letter from the US Ambassador will get that kind of instant attention and action from the Palace. Unless every Juan de la Cruz gets that kind of treatment when writing a letter to the President…which we know is not the case. So, Napoles was special to the President before the scam was exposed by media or how else would they explain this? Who did Napoles give the letter to and why the special treatment?

  2. mauricio palao on

    Clearly, this choir is listening to the preacher. Other newspapers have their own choirs too. One has to read all newspapers to arrive at a fairly good idea of what really goes on. My take is that the Estradas/Ejercitos came into view with Erap the ‘movie-actor-turned-politician’ leading the charge from San Juan. Today, they are rampant and are known all over for very wrong reasons. This administration, on the other hand, has brought to light very blatant and grave abuses in and of public office and is currently prosecuting what seems to be the first batch of ‘wrong-doers’, (a very neutral characterization)…when there was nothing but silence, (tolerance?), in the past three, four or five administrations. A welcome change, one might say.

    • Did you forget Lacierda saying that the investigation was initiated by the past administration? Huy, gising! You are missing the plot.

  3. Ambassador Tiglao you hit the nail right on the head…Why couldn’t we have scribes of your ilk doing their jobs? Officers and men in the army, do something your Country is coming to pieces. Cardinals and Religious organizations get the people back on the street lets get this ogre out of Malacanang.

  4. the whole aquino saga is a big lie, nothing new. this is just another one of those. unfortunately, only few Filipinos seem to know…

  5. Mukhang lumalabas na ang mga itinatagong lihim ng ating pinakamamahal na pangulo na noon pa man ay may contact na siya kay napoles at marahil ay mayroon na silang business deals noon pa man din. Kaya hindi kataka taka at may mga lumabas na mga ritrato na magkasama ang ating pangulo at si napoles. Isa pang hiwaga ng pangyayaring ito ay bakit sa pangulo ng Pilipinas sumuko ang mandarabong na ito at bakit kailangan escortan pa ng ating pangulo at ng ating DILG secretary, mar roxas ang babaing ito sa Camp Crame na siyang utak ng pagnanakaw ng pera ng bayan ? Paki esplika nga po ninyo ito sa taong bayan.

  6. Big question: Will an overwhelming number of Filipinos have the sufficient I.Q. required to appreciate the significance, relevance and gravity of this ‘smoking gun’? Because if they do, a movement should already be brewing, one that should fill the streets of EDSA one more time.

    Oh, but, they’re more into noontime BS and teleserye’s and all that.

    It’s fun in the Philippines!

    (what a sad place to be…)

    • Jude Trinidad on

      I totally agree with you. This is the same sad “wanting-IQ” state of the Filipino that put (read: voted) these politicians into their positions of entitlement and abuse.

    • Truly It is a sad place to be. The cancer of corruption had metastasized over breath and length of the land and the people had grown numb from pain, poverty and helplessness. Cry, my beloved country.

  7. Why dont any of the press ask these questions of the government when they have the chance. Its by having clever people understand whats happening & then questioning the government on these things. But most when they speak to any politician here seem to be yes people, they ask a simple question & are happy with a simple answer. I wish you had a jeremy paxman here in this country as he would show you how to interrogate a politician.

  8. jeffrey catipay on

    it only means one thing, his dealing with this issue not because he wants to really clean up his ranks but to prepare everything for the next presidential election. im not saying that these three senators are innocent but from what ive read from this article, they are all they same – doing things not for the country’s welfare but their own or their party’s. God – bless the Philippines…

  9. C. Malifier on

    This is a smoking gun talaga. Huling hli ang pagsisinungaling ni President Aquino at ang kanyang mga kapartido.

  10. It’s the same technique they did to the last administration exaggerating through media the “alleged sins” so that anybody endorse by GMA will not win.

  11. This is a very good analysis. Hopefully other columnists article writers, bloggers and commentators will also share their views on the subject matter at hand. For one, I agree that the haste in dealing with the Napoles request based on this letter already reveals that PNoy and Maam Janet Napoles know each other personally, for if not, why direct the letter to him not to the DOJ, Police and other government offices which responsibility is about crime.

  12. Migs Doromal on

    @ RT

    Please do not forget to point out the following facts in this ongoing pork barrel scandal. The actions of BS AQUINO on these two instances are very suspicious.

    1. Offering a PHP10M reward for the supposed “capture” of JLN when the NBI led by then former Director Nonnatus Rojas was hot on her heels.

    2. Sacking NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas (thru Leila De Lima) after JLN surrendered to BS AQUINO at Malacanang.

    That then NBI Director Rojas’ dogged investigative work in the emerging pork barrel scandal is an understatement. Why he was sacked by BS AQUINO for trumped up charges and unfounded allegations smacks of a cover-up already in the works immediately after Janet’s supposed “surrender.”

  13. Why would Napoles’ letter be received by Aquino’s innermost sanctum dealing with “matters that are personal or which pertain to the First Family.” Elementary, because Janet Napoles IS family.