Editorial

Open scream

The P10-billion pork barrel scam, allegedly perpetrated by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles through her company JLN Corp., screams to be investigated. President Aquino has called for an exhaustive and impartial inquiry—but who should do the investigating?

 

Some details of the alleged abduction of Benhur Luy, once Napoles’ trusted lieutenant, remain murky. These need to be cleared. It was this incident which led to the open rupture between Napoles and her former employees, and which brought the National Bureau of Investigation into the case.

 

Was Luy in fact held against his will? Or did the NBI harass Napoles and her brother? (That was Napoles’ assertion, in her April 17 letter of complaint to the President.) The second especially is a crucial question, but is it the NBI who should determine the answer?

 

Despite the many safeguards already built into the pork barrel system, in its present guise as the Priority Development Assistance Fund, it remains highly vulnerable to legislative skullduggery. The entire JLN operation, according to the signed affidavits of the six employees-turned-whistle-blowers, was designed to take advantage of that vulnerability.

 

Did the five senators and 23 congressmen implicated in the first wave of testimonies course pork barrel funds through fake organizations or fake projects? In whose pockets did the money end up?

 

That is a pivotal question, the sort of thing that we’ve come to expect an inquiry by the Senate or the House of Representatives to ask, but is, say, the Senate blue ribbon committee the appropriate venue to determine the answer?

 

It seems all but impossible for the JLN operation, as described in the affidavits, to succeed without the connivance of unscrupulous officials in the Department of Budget and Management. While the operation depended on the use of strategic forgeries and manufactured documents, the whistle-blowers also talk about working through trusted operatives in the department.

 

There is no showing that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad was even aware of the JLN scheme, but is he the right person to investigate the reported role of budget officials in the alleged pork barrel scam?

 

A web of implicated agencies and officials: It seems like a formula for pessimism, but in fact it is the JLN business model as we understand it. The entire enterprise depends on the probability that individuals and institutions get caught all the time in an ever-thickening web of implication and compromise and consequence.

 

What is to be done then?

 

All the necessary investigations must be conducted. Under Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, the NBI has largely recovered its high reputation; it would be loath to squander all that with a reckless investigation.

 

The chambers of Congress must conduct its own investigation; it is the responsibility of the incoming leadership in both the House and the Senate to redeem its public image, with a thoroughgoing inquiry in aid of legislation designed to install more safeguards into the pork barrel system.

 

The budget department must launch its own investigation, to hold the officials and employees implicated in the whistle-blowers’ affidavits to account—and to offer them a chance to clear the air and defend their reputation.

 

Above all, the appropriate charges must be filed against Napoles and company. The businesswoman was already implicated in the Senate investigation into the fertilizer fund scam, and the scheme involving ghost organizations or ghost projects already disclosed, in 2007. But no charges were ever filed.

 

That must change. Even if the web of implication which wheelers and dealers depend on extends all the way to the courts, the charges must still be filed. Aside from constant public pressure, the findings from the various inquiries can make the difference.

 

 

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • josh_alexei

    MONTREAL — Quebec anti-corruption police on Tuesday arrested Jeremy Morris, who they believe was part of a multimillion-dollar kickback scheme involving the construction of McGill University’s superhospital.

    Police allege Morris funnelled bribes between SNC-Lavalin and hospital officials in order for the construction giant to receive the lucrative hospital building contract, which was worth over $1 billion.

    Police arrested Morris at Montreal’s international airport on his way back from the Bahamas, where he was believed to be living down the road from another man wanted in the case, the former head of the McGill University Health Care Centre, Arthur Porter.

    Quebec police have accused the former CEO of SNC-Lavalin, Pierre Duhaime, as well as SNC’s former executive vice-president, Riadh Ben Aissa, of conspiring with Porter, Morris and another superhospital official, Yanai Elbaz, to fix the hospital’s contract-tendering process. Porter is still in the Bahamas and journalists have reported that he says he’s too sick to return to Canada to face charges. Ben Aissa is believed to be in jail in Switzerland.

    Related to this Case, Mrs. Porter was denied bail on single count of charge for Laundering $22 millions for her Husband Arthur Porter, which Doctors said will not live long to see Trial (he is dying of Terminal Illness). So Far, 106 individuals were Arrested and Charged for various Corruption Offenses in a Province Wide probe by the Quebec Special Police Anti Corruption Unit that is widespread and involved many, very many high Elected Officials including the Mayor of Montreal (14 charges) mostly for receiving Secret Commissions (a nicer term for KICKBACKS) and the Criminal probe is still ongoing, parallel to the Judicial Inquiry finding answer s why these salamagans happened in such a Scale and in every sort of way.

    • Charlotte Samaniego

      ???

      • josh_alexei

        To answer your question, simply, in other part of the world, corruption allegations resulted in arrests and charges and forfeiture of Kickbacks and what do get from the Philippines? Media Mileage mostly and nada.

      • Eustaquio Joven

        Good answer! Though I didn’t quite get what the question was… Hehehe

  • boybakal

    Politicians foundations are scam….scheme to hide their pork barrel.

  • speaksoftlylove

    There is a new huge scam exposed which is involving Internal Revenue Allotments. It is far bigger than the pork barrel and I don’t understand why PDI is not carrying the news.

    No less than PNoy’s ally, Congressman Antonino Nadres exposed the scam and according to her it involves PNoy’s allies. No wonder only websites perceived unfriendly to the administration are publishing it. Congressman Antonino-Nadres belongs the NUP which is a member of the majority coalition. The scam involves the same modus operandi in the sense that bogus NGOs are used as beneficiaries. In his jurisdiction alone 120 million was lost. Considering that a total of 200 billion is IRA is collected every year, you just can’t imagine how billions are lost.

    • Noel Noel Munro

      Kailangang bigyan ng pansin ang sinasabi mo.

      • Eustaquio Joven

        Ang PDAFscam ay panakip lang sa MWSS scam which is a lot bigger but closer to home because of linkages to 2 cabinet secretaries. Ngayon, tatakpan ba natin ang panakip na ito? Puede ba, isa-isa lang? Mahina ang mga kakampi.

  • Noel Noel Munro

    Ginawa nilang tanga ang sambayanang Pilipino mula ulo at hanggang paa.

    • Eustaquio Joven

      Hindi nila kayang gawin ‘yan, dahil matagal na tayong ganyan!

  • Eustaquio Joven

    “…to install more safeguards into the pork barrel system.” Don’t put safeguards in an inherently evil creation. Abolish it.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94

editors' picks

June 23, 2014

Gone to the dogs

advertisement
June 23, 2014

Sour grapes

June 23, 2014

Pendulum swing

June 23, 2014

Feedback

advertisement
royalblood
June 23, 2014

Royal Blood