Janet Napoles, this is the real story, dealt with and bribed a number of legislators in the unprecedented SARO-for-Cash exchange never before tried in a corruption-prone Congress. The group of senators and congressmen, to use an already-tainted term, made “repeat orders” with Napoles through her phony NGOs. The legislators handed over slips of papers to Napoles called SAROs. In turn, she delivered duffel bags of cash to the honorable lawmakers. Some had their grease money in dollars.
As is the usual story of flawed humans, the success of her operations made Napoles bolder. Not content with her stable of “suki” [regular customers]in both chambers of Congress, she ambitioned to snare much of the legislature into her tangled web of phony NGOs. So she sought out “agents” who could make the so-called “connect” to the majority of the members of Congress, senators–with their big allocations–preferably.
That would be the crowning glory of her pork scam. She would be able to trap and bribe the majority in both chambers of Congress. Aside from the amazing riches that she would amass, would that not be a great psychic victory for somebody who left Basilan after high school to seek out her fortunes in the big city?
But as they say, things often go awry.
An attempt by Napoles to expand her list of cohorts in Congress, according to sources, started with a “presentation” made by Napoles herself to staffers of various senators and congressmen outside of her web. It was not much different from a CEO leading a product rollout.
The key staffers with recommendatory powers on where a senator or congressman should allocate his PDAF heard Napoles make her pitch, centered, of course, on the huge kickbacks due pliable senators and congressmen. The “percentages” and “commissions” offered by Napoles were unheard of, pushing many of the attendees to find an excuse and scamper away. Many did not even touch the glass of cold water offered to them by the Napoles helps.
The key staffers who left in a huff were just shocked by the whole thing: the SARO for hard cash, a minimum of 40 percent kickback for every SARO delivered. These key staffers were not saints but they never knew of a practice that was that absolutely corrupt and brazen. Even in a compromised Congress, the SOP was this: every PDAF release, even a sleazy one, has to have a corresponding delivery—be it a road, a bridge, or a farm machinery. Or, some substandard medicine or fertilizer.
Still, the failure of the “presentation” failed to discourage Napoles. She instructed her staff to prepare “requests for funding” and almost all the names in the Senate and the majority of the House members were recipients of such “requests.”
And these “requests for funding” —which never became executed transactions—were duly entered into what is now known as the digital files of Benhur Luy. And encoded in one single digital file with the transactions between Napoles and her “suki,” the real thing, the revolting and unprecedented SARO-for-Cash transactions between Napoles and her cohorts in both chambers of Congress.
The publication of the mixed up list of done deals and the ”wish list” of Janet Napoles – the transactions that never really materialized but were duly logged into a digital file – is the one causing deep grief and anguish among the legislators who never really transacted with Napoles but had been publicized as part of the Napoles web.
They did not deal with Napoles, they were never part of the scam. But in the Luy Files, they did, they were.
The big puzzle that needs to be investigated deeper were entries in the Luy Files that showed members of Congress supposedly releasing their PDAF to the DOTC for the purchase of technology/office gadgets and equipment. They were PDAF releases without SAROs—which is not allowed under congressional rules. The release of congressional funds is a structured thing and without a SARO nothing will move.
Did the DOTC in 2003 and 2004 conspire with Napoles to work out a Napoles-DOTC
scam, then used the members of Congress as “beneficiaries.” Possible. Caloy Padilla was running for the Senate (the lone candidate of Ping Lacson ) and had no PDAF whatsoever. Yet, his name was on the list of the congressional leaders who supposedly channeled their PDAF to the DOTC to get huge commissions. The others listed as beneficiaries of the scam showed PDAF allocations with zero release to the DOTC.
The DOTC scam which was a main feature of the Luy Files was a fraud in this sense: the main victims were members of Congress whose names were used to legitimize the scam. Garbage in, garbage out. It was one very rare occurrence in Philippine society—the legislators as victims. It was another proof that substantial entries in the Luy Files were hoaxes.
The legislators falsely dragged into the DOTC scam had their photos splashed prominently, like common criminals. They are crying “foul” but what can they do. The damage has been done and no amount of clarification would fully clear the doubt on their integrity.
The Luy Files can be aptly described as part true, part false. The problem was even the hoax part was lumped into the series of articles of the Files—with the accurate entries.
No distinction was made, no warning to the readers that many of the entries maybe bogus. But what the heck? There are no Dan Rather/Lara Logan type of sanctions here for mixing up truth with hoaxes.
The aggrieved legislators just have to grin and bear it. At least they do not have to wrestle with their conscience.