Enough with selective justice!

ON DISTANT SHORE
By Val G. Abelgas

Abad and Aquino (File photo)

Abad and Aquino (File photo)

Here we go again.

After Budget Secretary Florencio Abad was tagged as the alleged mentor of businesswoman Janet Napoles in designing the P10-billion pork barrel scam, Malacanang spokespersons were quick to point out that Abad still enjoys the trust and confidence of President Aquino.

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said Aquino would not be affected by the allegations until proven, and that while Aquino and Abad had talked after the claims were made, they did not discuss the pork barrel scam involving funds of the now illegal Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). It’s hard to believe that Aquino would not be bothered by the allegations, and that Abad would not even try to deny the claim or give his side to the boss. Unless, of course, they’ve become so calloused they didn’t care what the people think about the shameless scheme.

We would have understood his focus on reforms except that the allegations would tend to shatter the very foundation of his much-ballyhooed campaign against corruption, Abad being one of his most trusted aides and the Department of Budget Management (DBM) that he heads being the central agency from which all those billions were released to the allegedly fraudulent non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to fund ghost projects.

And from the many bits of information being leaked by former Sen. Ping Lacson, who is one of the few lawmakers not tainted by the pork barrel stigma, and Napoles’ lawyer Bruce Rivera, it would seem that Abad was not the only Aquino ally and aide who are being tagged by Napoles in her “tell-all” affidavit, but over a hundred other government officials.

Among those allegedly named as co-conspirators in the biggest heist of public money ever were Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, another Aquino trusted aide and who also remains in Aquino’s confidence; a leading senator and prominent member of Aquino’s Liberal Party; an agriculture undersecretary; and a former agrarian reform secretary.

“They instructed me about the procedures and taught me the process of how to undertake the PDAF cycle,” Napoles was quoted as saying in her affidavit.

In a report in the Manila Times, Dr. Dante Ang, the paper’s chairman emeritus, said some Malacañang officials were not spared in the damning affidavit. Quoting a reliable source, he said a ranking DBM official is alleged to have taught Napoles the ropes. “[Name of DBM official] was the one who taught me how to follow the procedures at the DBM in order to expedite the releases of the funds,” said the source quoting from the Napoles affidavit. Napoles added that she “followed up the releases” with another ranking DBM official.

Ang added: “Yet another Palace factotum was also mentioned in her affidavit. Wrote Napoles, “[Name of the Palace official] is one of my contacts in Malacañang and who was introduced to me by [name of a Public Relations practitioner]. We casually know each other.” She said she “talks” to the PR guy “for advice every now and then.”

The alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam says persons very close to the Aquino administration were the real masterminds of the scheme, and Aquino is not bothered and remains focused on reforms? Because he believes they are innocent until proven guilty?

But why did the President not accord former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona the same presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and instead proclaimed him guilty of so many violations before the House of Representatives could even vote for his impeachment and before the Senate could start his trial? Why can’t the President and his allies accord the same presumption of innocence to all the senators and congressmen that have been maligned and unfairly tried in the court of public opinion?

Why did Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, obviously on the say so of Malacanang, so easily released all damning information about the roles of leading opposition Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, and is now overly careful to release the names of all those tagged in the signed written affidavit of Napoles, which De Lima claims seemed very credible.

If the affidavit were credible, then why is she hesitant to release the names or its contents? Is she really concerned about the harm it would do to the “innocent” persons that may have been dragged into the controversy, or is she worried about the harm it would do to Aquino’s allies in the list and to the Aquino administration’s “clean” image?

Now we know why the Aquino administration has been forestalling the approval of the Freedom of Information Act. If an FOI law were in place, the people, through court action, can compel De Lima to reveal the contents of the affidavit since it is a signed document submitted to a government agency, making it a public record and, therefore, subject to public disclosure.

Even without the FOI law, the document is now public record and in the interest of fairness, transparency and accountability, should be disclosed to the public or made available to scrutiny by Congress, the courts and media.

It is becoming obvious that the pork barrel scam that the administration blatantly used to destroy the reputations of opposition leaders, and which it hoped would damage the backbone of the opposition before the 2016 presidential elections is doing a boomerang and is coming back to haunt the country’s leadership.
Apparently, the public is beginning to see through the hypocrisy of the Aquino administration. In the latest survey released by the Social Weather Station, Aquino’s ratings dropped by a huge 13 points in the first three months of the year. The survey was conducted just after revelations of corruption in the National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor) and the Technology Resource Center (TRC) involving billions of pesos.

But ‘daang matuwid” or not, the Ombudsman must prove its worth and prosecute to the full extent of the law all those responsible for this shameless scheme, whether they are opposition leaders or allies of the Aquino administration.

The Lady of Justice was not blindfolded for nothing. It means that justice will be meted out without fear or favor, and that ultimately the scales of justice would tip in favor of the truth. Hopefully, that will be the case with this horrendous crime presented before her.

(valabelgas@aol.com)


9 Responses. Have your say.

  1. sid abcede says:

    The allegation allegedly made by Napoles in the above column of Val Abelgas is unbelievable considering that Napoles has been involved in PDAP scam way back 2007during Arroyo’s administration while Sec. Abad and DA Sec. Alcala were only appointed in 2011 when Pres. Aquino became President. That report is a hogwash designed to muddle the real issue on Enrile, Estrada and Revilla.

    • val abelgas says:

      So are you suggesting that Napoles stopped her scam after Aquino became president, or if she went on, as we all know, that she did it without the knowledge of Abad or the DBM, or Alcala and the Agriculture Dept? That’s even more hogwash, using your term.

    • Bobby Bagos says:

      Are you also suggesting those three are the only ones involved with Napoles? Are you that darn naive in thinking that those people she mentioned as her mentors are not capable of dirty work? I think you better get your head out of that hole where the sun never shine and really think of what you’re saying. Our government and the corrupt people that are running it are the ones causing our country to fail, continuously. I’m willing to bet that if you look inside PNoy’s closet you will find some dirty laundry in there.

  2. The last 2 paragraphs of your article on the Ombudsman and the Lady of Justice are the most crucial that MUST be done…..thanks Val A. Pres. Aquino remember and honor your father and mother…

  3. Ricky Xavier says:

    This accusation on Abad and several other people I believe is to distract us on those persons where there is actual proof of their malfeasance. The call for the DOJ to reveal the names of those listed by Napoles would be an injustice to those people until actual proof is obtained. Let us not allow ourselves to be deceived by those who try to deceive us especially those who are paid to do so.

    • Bobby Bagos says:

      For crying out loud, are you forgetting something? This is the Philippines we’re talking about here, we didn’t earn the coveted title of being one of the most corrupt country in the world if we did’nt have the history and reputation for it. I agree however, that all of these has to be proven

    • Bobby Bagos says:

      I hate to be the devil’s advocate but my gut feeling is that Napoles is not going to go down the hatch all by herself, she’s going to take a whole bunch of people with her and for her to name some members of PNoy’s cabinet is just a catalyst. De Lima need her testimoies badly and making her a state witness is the only way to do it. It’s time to clean the sewer and the poso negro in our system of government, otherwise our country will stay screwed for eternity, and eternity is a long, long time.

  4. Fernando Habito says:

    This narrative report has the tendency to make the PDAF scam issue more daunting and skeptical.

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