The most shameful corruption conspiracy in PHL history

Frankly Speaking
By Frank Wenceslao

??????????????????????A Filipino-American partner in a New York law corporation asked me how he and Pamusa can help President Aquino hasten conviction or at least the retribution of the guilty in the pork barrel and other scams which, according to US-Pinoys, may go down as the most shameful corruption conspiracy in Philippine history worse than Marcos’ rapacity that only involved him and a few cronies.

How Janet Napoles succeeded in convincing virtually the controlling factions of the Senate and the House to participate in the scams and were carried away by the sweet-talk of her operatives composed of people who’ve not been heard before such as office clerks, relatives, drivers and members of the lowest echelon of Philippine society is and in itself a big blot in the Filipino psyche that will take years to erase like trauma suffered by a young lady rape victim.

Senate and House members, their aides, mid-level administration officials couldn’t have been convinced to participate in the scams if Napoles didn’t show close connection with the Aquino administration’s highest officials that her operatives invoked such as ES Paquito Ochoa whose “former” law firm (MOST) fronted for him and Budget Secretary Butch Abad who approved Priority Development Assistance Fund releases without completion report certified to by representatives of COA and the agencies concerned such as DPWH, DE, Dept., DILG, DA, DENR, etc.

After reading the NY law firm’s government investigations practice, my colleagues and I agreed to ask it to be Pamusa’s counsel in fighting government corruption and recovering the ill-gotten assets amassed by current and former top-level Philippine government officials, close associates and family members, or businessmen and individuals that colluded with them. I submitted Pamusa’s credentials to be whistleblower or qui tam plaintiff to recover the Philippine government assets lost to corruption.

The law firm is abreast with international cooperation agreements against corruption (ICAACs) such as UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) enforced by the U.S. in its National Strategy to Internationalize Efforts Against Kleptocracy and President George W. Bush’s Presidential Proclamation 7750 (PP7750) distinctly and separately from the Philippine laws violated that has made this aspect of law practice as lucrative as defending those accused of having enriched themselves from the proceeds of corruption.

To sweeten the prospect of success I submitted for consideration the criminal charges against three top members of the Philippine Senate, namely: Juan Ponce Enrile, Marcos’ defense minister who led the 1986 People Power Revolt that toppled him; Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, son of former President Joseph Estrada; and Ramon Revilla Jr., a popular movie star who wishes to follow Estrada’s footsteps and run for president in 2016; and Napoles, the confessed architect of illegally spending P10 billion ($220 million) Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), a euphemism for congressional pork barrel. Not included are aides and lower echelon government officials charged with graft.

I also submitted a summary of the Ombudsman’s charges that the three senators committed plunder (violation of RA 7080 with each pocketing and causing the loss of P50 million or more of public funds) by taking undue advantage of official position, arranging the release and illegally diverting their respective PDAF allotments to Napoles’ owned and controlled non-governmental organizations (NGOs) of dubious legality to implement the various projects. As principal contract condition, each senator got a kickback of 40% of the agreed contract price payable upfront after the funds are released by the Department of the Budget & Management (DBM).

However, no project was satisfactorily and completely finished. Napoles’ NGOs awarded the contracts turned out as were feared of being “fly-by-night” entities. After each senator’s 40% kickback was paid, 60% went to Napoles’ NGOs for implementation cost but most of which went to her bank accounts and was likely remitted overseas. The money now overseas surely can be recovered by Pamusa and the law firm bringing U.S. legal actions against the guilty parties regardless of what steps the Philippine government make take.

Based on the Ombudsman’s evidence, each senator received his kickback with Enrile’s amounting to P345 million ($7.70 million), Revilla’s P517 million ($11.50 million), and Estrada’s P278 million ($6.20 million) through a modus operandi crafted by Napoles of a combination and series of overt criminal acts repeatedly taking place over a number of years. Plunder is a capital non-bailable offense and punishable by reclusion perpetua and forfeiture of ill-gotten wealth in favor of the government, which has surely a U.S. counterpart such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and other financial crimes extending to the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act which causes nightmares to organized crime or Mafia members.

I hastened to add and induce acceptance by the law firm to be Pamusa’s counsel that the ill-gotten assets during the time of Marcos and succeeding presidents including of those able to ingratiate themselves with every administration to actively engage in corrupt practices and illegally enrich themselves are easier to recover now after 28 years since the fall of Marcos. The country’s justice system and our U.S. legal actions need only to be interfaced with the ICAACs, UNCAC, etc. that have gone a long way and multiplied the effectiveness of anticorruption efforts by the latter’s provision, among others, as follows:

“Countries agreed to cooperate with one another in every aspect of the fight against corruption, including prevention, investigation, and the prosecution of offenders. Countries are bound by the Convention render specific forms of mutual legal assistance in gathering and transferring evidence for use in court, to extradite offenders. Countries are also required to undertake measures which will support the tracing, freezing, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of corruption.” (Emphasis supplied).

I made it clear that Pamusa’s authority from USDOJ allows us to submit through counsel to the FBI any evidence of corruption in the Philippines and what we can dig up in the U.S. If the evidence we have is reinforced by what the Ombudsman would share with the law firm, it will warrant the FBI to access the databases of the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The FBI can verify if there was money transferred from the Philippines or U.S. property acquired by a Filipino with unusually large amounts beyond the statistical probability of it being earned by a suspect, his spouse or children or close relatives and close associates, this may well serve as evidence of foreign corrupt practices worth digging deeper into.

In this situation FBI investigators’ hunches never go wrong. It may mean the monies allocated for the Senate to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona are now part of the kickbacks from the PDAF and other scams.

Would President Aquino open the Pandora’s Box for Corona to ask for a new trial, or throw his whiz-kids Ochoa and Abad under the bus for their stupid advice of bribing the Senator-judges to convict Corona so PNoy will after all smell like newly blossoming Sampaguita?

4 Responses. Have your say.

  1. Mac Flores, Jr. says:

    Mr. Wenceslao, given your sincere service offer to dig deeper into PHL issue on corruption, I believe Pres. Aquino may consider your offer.

    On the contrary, it is also possible that the president may not be the right person to receive your valued offer for the following reasons, in my opinion:

    1. DAP has not been decided whether illegal or not.

    The present administration is involved in the release of DAP funds to most favored Senators after Corona’s conviction.

    2. Although PDAF has been decided as illegal, the on-going investigation and partial results zeroed in to only 3 Senators who are not members of political party in power.

    Hence, the issue on selective justice exists where alleged party members of present administration are also involved in the anomaly but were not fully investigated.

    Who, therefore, is the right person, authority or party more qualified to receive your service offer?

    I personally do not know at this point, because the type of PHL government prior to martial law up to the Cory Constitution is Presidential Democratic Republic where the President is BOTH the Head of State and Head of Government.

    Had there been a Head of State (HS), and the President is solely the Head of Government (HG), I think the HS is more appropriate to receive your service offer.

    As I commented before, the Head of State, if the constitution will be revised, should be called the PEOPLE/STATE COUNCIL.

    PHILCONSA and Department of School of Government in public or private schools may join hands in defining the role, function and composition of the Council in helping the Executive branch resolve many political and economic issues of the country.

  2. Albert0 says:

    It is about time President NoyNoy Aquino to do what he promise to do years ago. I sincerely believe, and still vividly in my mind when he says’KUNG WALANG CORRUPT WALANG MAHIRAP. These corrupt politicians should be prosecuted to the extent of the law. Nobody is ‘ABOVE THE LAW” If they were found guilty in a COURT OF LAW, THEY ALL SHOULD BE PUNISHED AND INCARCERATED OF THE CRIME THEY WERE ALL GUILTY OF.

  3. pat talens says:

    As evidences mount to underscore the enormity of their thievery of people money, no way I subscribe to the calls by many that Revilla, Estrada, and Enrile be provided special treatments as they further await judicial actions. As known icons and pillars of the country’s political establishment, as political leaders who swore, not only before their people, but also before God, to serve the best interest of their people, the greater should they be punished, the more must not, repeat, must not they be accorded special treatments.

    If the government under President Aquino is truly serious in pursuing its “daang matuwid” slogan, and if there must be established deterrence in the scandalous corruptions and plunder of the country’s treasury by politicians and leaders in government, this is no better time to begin—no special treatment to Revilla, Estrada, Enrile, and others

    Their detentions must be without taint of favoritism and special handling. They should be mixed and included with the general population of inmates. Here, there will not be a better way to demonstrate the true essence of law—of equal justice to all.
    And if justice is to be skewed, it should tilt against them even more because as political leaders they did worse than ordinary thieves, their betrayal is worse than Judas’. Judas executed himself for betraying one creation, Jesus, while these politicians betrayed so many and yet they continue to laugh, to live, and to make a mockery of God’s law.

    • Bobby Bagos says:

      I think we’ve been on this road before, hundreds of times as a matter of fact, and these new round of organized grab ass is just a continuation of more justice being denied to the people of our country. If the Sandiganbayan failed to pin something really worth while to convict these sorry excuses for humanity, then our country and it’s citizens are forever doomed. Let’s not even involve the Almighty in these equation, he’s probably not even interested.

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