Oh how we waited with bated breath. How we agreed, secure her, secure the goddamn witness against these Senators and Congressmen, they must all want her dead.
But apparently Janet Napoles did not know to be a witness, as she would declare herself innocent in the process of saying “I do not know” and “I invoke my right” in equal parts on Thursday. At some point she would say, no, there’s no such thing as a pork barrel scam.
There were no answers to be had here, and no amount or kind of questioning got a real answer out of her. Not the senator who tried to scare her shitless, not the senator who tried to explain that the public might forgive her if she told the truth.
Any form of denial was not something we welcomed. The answers we need are in our heads. Napoles got them all wrong.
In the know
Which is to say of course that we already believe the whistleblowers, we believe Benhur Luy most importantly, because he provided us with a narrative of corruption that we’ve long wanted to hear. So yes, it is about the particularities of building a pretend-foundation or non-government organization and having senators’ and congressmen’s pork barrel funds funneled through that.
But also it is about listening to this man talk about his blood relation and former boss’s moneymaking venture, and finding that his cluelessness and naiveté also shines through. There is no sense in Luy’s stories that he is the cunning one here. Neither is there a sense that he thinks himself absolutely innocent. He worked within the system that Napoles had concocted, and his effectivity as witness is borne of the fact that he was in the know.
It is just Napoles’s bad luck that she is up against such a credible witness. It is also her bad luck that Luy is the perfect whistleblower for a public hankering for change, in the face of a president that had promised and continues to insist on the matuwid na daan. We as a public after all have long known that taxpayer’s money does not go back to nation. Luy proves exactly how a woman named Napoles has made a business out of it.
Even better, we are allowed to imagine just how many more senators and congressmen are in on it, other than of course the ones who have since been named.
Bane of PNoy et al
Now this is to say that Luy is also the bane of PNoy’s existence. Because while the latter has asked us to keep our eye on the balls that are Senators Enrile, Estrada and Revilla, Luy’s stories tell us that it is absolutely impossible that they are the only ones who have gotten on the Napoles train. We are reminded about the probability that many from PNoy’s own allies are in on this.
And that is what we had hoped Napoles would throw our way yesterday. Because Luy and her ex-employees’ have woven a story that we already believe, and there’s a paper trail that is difficult to question. Between talk about Napoles fearing for her life and the P150,000 that was spent to get her from jail to the Senate, we could only expect that she was giving us more than just her insistence that she does not know anything.
Of course that we didn’t get anything at all might also be our doing. When Napoles surrendered and got an audience with Malacañang—complete with photos!—we all threw the idea of her turning state witness, of the President making a deal with her. Well if yesterday was any indication, then there was no deal made that was about speaking truthfully in a Blue Ribbon Committee hearing. Or maybe the deal was to only speak in court about it? Or to not speak at all if it means implicating Liberal Party allies of the President?
Clearly, there has been no deal made that was about encouraging this woman to tell the truth.
Plea bargains galore
If anything it seems now that she’s protecting whoever it is that had said yes to her grand scheme that we now know to be the pork barrel scam. If anything, she seems to think that not saying anything is the only way to go. Now I do not want her to be state witness either, which in this country would mean practically forgiving her for what she’s done. I think it’s also too late to do that given public perception.
A plea bargain would be great except that we don’t do it too well in this country—neither do we do it transparently. Say, Carlos Garcia practically getting away money laundering and bribery, after a plea bargain agreement was reached where it seems all he needed to do was return less than half of the P303 million pesos in government funds that he had been accused of pocketing.
Were we considering a plea bargain with Napoles, none of it should be a secret. In fact, it would be interesting to find out what this critical public is willing to give this woman in exchange for having her speak the truth about our senators and congressmen, about this system that we all know to be corrupt—we just never had an insider squealing about it. Plead guilty to all charges and you return the P10 billion to government, and you get less years in jail? You get to keep two of your houses? You get to keep your bathtub. Haha.
Because we do need to hear who else is in on this system, and it is Napoles who can give us those names. Information is what has fueled our fight against the pork barrel system and against ALL pork. Jailing Napoles without getting anything out of her is like saying that she is the end-all and be-all of this fight. She cannot be the only culprit behind that P10-billion scam; neither can it only be Senators Enrile, Estrada and Revilla if they are found guilty.
We need to get Napoles talking. And if she refuses? Then stop giving her special protection. We all know we could use that P150,000 on more important things.