Quantcast

Analysis

Congress draws ‘no trespass’ line

By

Congress has drawn a “no trespass” line on the sand in the inquiry into the alleged diversion of P10 billion of its pork barrel fund to organizations headed by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

Napoles has been at the center of the inquiry conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Commission on Audit acting on affidavits of former employees of her umbrella organization, JLN Corp. The affidavits submitted to the NBI claim that the corporation acted as a conduit in extracting huge sums from the pork barrel intended for public works with the consent of certain senators and congressmen, with the money allegedly finding its way into Napoles’ bank accounts.

Since the purported racket broke into print, a torrent of insiders’ information unveiled by six whistle-blowers in their affidavits has deluged the media and made Napoles the lightning rod of public outrage over the matter.

In the flurry of these multiple investigations, in which the full weight of the state’s investigative apparatus has been brought to bear on the activities of the Napoles corporation, the other half of the story has barely made it to the surface.

Very little attention has been paid to the angle of the complicity of members of Congress in giving JLN Corp. access to their pork barrel fund—or the keys to unlock the vaults of taxpayers’ money intended for schools, health centers, roads, bridges, irrigation projects, fertilizers, and food production inputs—allegedly in exchange for kickbacks coming from the pilfered loot.

The sordid story that has crystallized from the frenzy of publicity generated by the disclosures in the affidavits and investigative reports in the media tells of a conspiracy or a collusion among the lawmakers, the creator, custodian and gatekeeper of the pork barrel patronage chest, to defraud the people. After all, the moneys could not have been siphoned off from the national treasury and into certain people’s pockets if some members of Congress had not provided access to their fund; there would have been no way for the syndicate to get past the safeguard mechanisms protecting pork barrel funds from abuse.

The collusion suggests a betrayal of the public by the legal custodian of the fund. Even if the evidence and affidavits in the hands of the NBI are sufficient to send Napoles and her accomplices to a fair public trial, members of Congress cannot escape accountability for this massive diversion of public funds committed in broad daylight.

As a result of the heavy publicity in the media on the investigations being conducted by the executive branch and independent constitutional bodies, demands are mounting in the public sector to refocus and expand the inquiries into the legislative branch, which has partnered with JLN Corp. in the alleged pillage of the public treasury.

The current investigations appear to be leading to a search for a diversionary scapegoat, with Napoles et al. as sacrificial beasts for public pillory, while the government treats the legislature as untouchable or as a sacred cow, maybe because of the separation of powers among the three branches, or more probably because expanding the inquiry into the congressional arena could possibly uncover the involvement of administration members in the supposed scam. It is a fact, not a conjecture, that five senators who gave access to their pork barrel funds—Ramon Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Gregorio Honasan—are not members of the administration’s ruling coalition led by the Liberal Party.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, whose department is spearheading the investigations with the NBI as the lead agency, last week poured cold water on a call for a Senate inquiry into the fund diversion. “Perhaps in due time, that proposal may be considered, but not at this  point,” she told reporters. She said that the move would be “premature,” that the NBI was “yet in the evidence-gathering and verification stage,” and that it would “not be prudent for the probe to be open and public at this point.”

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano also said a Senate or House investigation “might be problematic” because some of the lawmakers had been implicated in the supposed fund diversion.

Senator Francis Escudero has filed a resolution calling for an investigation of the alleged scam, saying that he wanted the probe to show that the Senate was capable of transparency and was not just an “old boys’ club.” But last Monday, the Senate decided to defer the proposed inquiry until after government agencies, including the NBI and the Bureau of Internal Revenue,  complete their investigations. Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, made the announcement after a committee caucus. He said a “consensus” had been reached that the “image, reputation and integrity” of the Senate would be compromised if the senators insisted on a wider probe.

The real risk in a Senate inquiry into the matter lies in that, with Napoles’ back pressed to the wall by multiple investigations, she could spill the beans on her connections in Congress as well as in the Cabinet, bringing the whole roof crashing down on the ruling political establishment.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=58819

Tags: amando doronila , Analysis , congress , corruption , Janet Lim-Napoles , opinion , politics , pork barrel

  • mike8232

    totally agree with this article. Its time to violently exterminate both houses and the people inside them

  • suburbanmother

    Image, reputation and integrity might be compromised…Say what! The senators think so highly of themselves. They must live in a bubble. They have lost their credibility from long time ago save for a few good ones. The only way to restore people’s trust is for justice department truly act as co-equal branch of government. In other words, there shall be no fear to investigate and prosecute a person of power.

  • crisostomo_ibarra_the3rd

    Ka Doro naman, pinapaikot mo na naman ang tao. Di ba sabi na ng congress leadership, they would rather wait for the NBI report before they decide on the issue of congressional inquiry in aid of legislation. I think that is a good strategy. It puts objectivity on the issue. The congress leadership does not want to feed the public fantasy for telenovela. Congress wanted to concentrate on their legislative agenda while waiting for the objective NBI investigation. I dont see any conflict in that strategy.

  • just another human

    will the Law makers involved receive PORK ? we have no idea what so ever on how it is spent all we get is ano,si kwan,,duon,mamaya,huh, HAHAHAHAHA,If they continue with this Pdafilia your guess is as good as mine

  • Nic Legaspi

    If there would be another people power uprising over the pork barrel issue, I do hope it would be a violent one, directed at members of the House and the Senate who misused their pork barrel allocations.

    • jessldt

      Let’s go the streets again and make our voices be heard. It will be a national outrage over the rotten system that is the real cause of poverty while few are enriching themselves with our money.

  • tweakthor

    The whole roof crashing down on the ruling political establishment …. uy naman mang Doro … nilagyan mo na naman ng spin na the Aquino government will crash down … ehhh sa simula pa lang ang mga pangalang nadadawit ay REVILLA, ENRILE, MARCOS, ESTRADA at HONASAN … mga well known members of the opposition. Sa House of Representatives ang mga pangalan ay mga dating mga tuta ni GLORIA. I am sure yung 700 Million scam na pakana ni Jocjoc Bolante ay kasabwat din doon si NAPOLES at mga tongresman ni Gloria. Mang Doro … nahihilo ka na ata sa asar mo kay Pinoy sira ang judgement mo.

  • AlexanderAmproz

    The Philippines Country is rich enough by far to produce a decent life for everybody,

    but it’s a failed rotten former Colony with a starvation slavery “system” for most.

  • talagalangha

    Hahaha, nabasa ko sa isang comment…PDAFILIA (Pdafphelia) daw…king ganun, ang mga pulitiko ay mga Pfadiles (PDAFphiles)…ayos!

    Pnoy, tangggalin mo na ang PDAF, parang awa mo na, wag mo nang isama sa iyong budget, it is THAT simple!

    Bakit ba ayaw mo, ‘neng?



Copyright © 2014, .
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
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  • Napoles turnaround alarms whistle-blowers
  • Palace prepared to charge its allies
  • 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  • PNP chief on plunder raps: ‘Amateurish’
  • Sports

  • Mixers trim Aces, force do-or-die tiff
  • Donaire junks Garcia as coach, taps father
  • ’Bye Ginebra: No heavy heart this time
  • UAAP board tackles new rules
  • Baguio climb to decide Le Tour de Filipinas
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • In love … with acting
  • From prison to the peak of success
  • ‘Asedillo’ location thrives
  • Business

  • Philippine Airlines to stop shipment of shark fins
  • PH banks not ready for Asean integration
  • Stocks down on profit-taking
  • Banks allowed to use ‘cloud’
  • SMIC to issue P15-B bonds
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
  • Believe it or not: Filipinos love US more than Yanks
  • PH, HK end bitter row; sanctions lifted
  • Marketplace