Janet Lim-Napoles is the only detention prisoner I know who chose her detention cell. She chose, not a cell, but a bungalow with lots of space around it. Not only that; it was previously the home of several high-profile detainees: former President Erap Estrada, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, Sen. Gringo Honasan and Nur Misuari, chair of the Moro National Liberation Front. She is in good company.
No other suspected criminal has ever been received at Malacañang to surrender to no less than the president of the nation before. No other prisoner has been accompanied by the President and his Presidential Security Group to the headquarters of the Philippine National Police before. Not even President Estrada. Erap was shown to media being photographed and fingerprinted and going through the booking procedures that ordinary criminals go through. Not Ma’am Janet. She is special. She cannot go through the same humiliating procedure. That is why the media were barred from photographing or even seeing her. This never happened before. Yet the government claims she is not being given special treatment.
Napoles’ transfer to Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, was to make sure she would be safe, according to the government. Fort Sto. Domingo is crawling with elite policemen, being the training camp of the Special Action Force of the PNP. She would really be secure there from the hitmen of very important persons who naturally want her dead because of what she knows about them in relation to the P10-billion pork barrel scam that she masterminded.
Fort Sto. Domingo is 46 kilometers from Makati, where she would be tried. She would have to be taken from Sta. Rosa to Makati and back every time there is a hearing. That is a 92-km round trip. During the trips to and fro, wouldn’t she be more vulnerable to attack than if she were confined in a place nearer to Makati, such as Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig, which is only next door to Makati? It would be so easy to plant bombs somewhere along her route or ambush her convoy at a lonely provincial road.
But I suppose her comfort and her image to the public are more important than her safety. Anyway, if we still have capital punishment, she would be a candidate for the electric chair. But she should not be confined with ordinary criminals because she is not an ordinary criminal. She is very special. She is the mastermind of a scam that stole an unprecedented P10 billion (wow!) of the people’s money (nobody has been able steal that much before her), part of which she distributed to friends in high places, senators and congressmen no less. With such important and “honorable” partners in crime, she deserves to be confined in quarters more worthy of her fame, or notoriety: no less than the detention quarters of a former president of the Philippines and other VIPs.
And shouldn’t the Department of Justice already take her sworn statement, which senators or congressmen assigned their pork barrel to her bogus NGOs and how much in kickbacks she gave them? In case something happens to her, her statement can be used as evidence against her partners-in-crime.
And wouldn’t it be smart of her to already give that sworn statement, naming names and how much? With that in prosecutors’ hands, it would be useless for her coconspirators to silence her. There would already be a record of what she knows. Hence she would stay alive much longer if she talks now.
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After delays in the bidding for the P60-billion LRT-1 Cavite Extension project, the Special Bids and Awards Committee of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) may declare a failure of bidding after all. The railway project is the biggest infrastructure project under the administration’s public-private partnership (PPP) program.
Of the four prequalified bidders, three backed out of the actual bidding. Only one, Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) submitted a bid but failed to meet the requirements.
The failed bidding is a clear manifestation of the incompetence of those calling the shots at the DOTC. They did not understand the technical and economic aspects of the project. Since each of the bidders must have spent at least P100 million preparing for the bids, it must have taken a lot for them to just write off such a large sum of money.
Transportation Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla and the DOTC’s supposed expert infrastructure advisers and consultants were wrong to presume that the private proponents will make bundles of money in profits at no risk to them, hence the unacceptable terms of the bidding.
Another undersecretary, Rene Limcaoco, said, “the government doesn’t want to make them too rich.”
It is obvious that the bidders were apprehensive about taking undue risks for this P60-billion project. Among them are land acquisition, real estate taxes, right of way, tariff and relocation of squatters. These plus other unknown variables may cause delays in the projected time of completion and loss of substantial amounts of money to whoever will win the project.
In boxing lingo, what happened the other week was a straight jab followed by a left hook that stunned DOTC officials. They thought they could throw their weight around due to the “viability” of the project.
Government must realize that the mere fact that big reputable corporations like MPIC, San Miguel Corp., DM Consunji, Ayala, JG Summit, among others, are participating in government projects shows a lot of investor confidence in the administration. But the President must tell his people to be considerate and aware of the business aspects of the PPP.