As I See It

SC letting accused in pork barrel scam escape

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09:56 PM September 22nd, 2013

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By: Neal H. Cruz, September 22nd, 2013 09:56 PM

The Supreme Court is allowing the accused in the P10-billion pork barrel scam to escape by issuing a temporary restraining order on the “lookout” order issued by the Department of Justice against them. Expect the 32 remaining accused in the scam to leave the country for sanctuaries abroad, taking with them the ill-gotten wealth they have stolen from the Filipino people. Six have flown the coop. It is as if the high court has opened the gates of a fishpond to allow all the big fish to escape.

The DOJ is powerless to issue hold-departure orders or even just lookout orders against the accused until the Ombudsman endorses to the Sandiganbayan the charges filed against them by the DOJ. But Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales earlier said it would take her prosecution team about a year to sift through the truckload of evidence and determine probable cause. That’s like giving them a year to escape. The Ombudsman has since modified the estimated time her team would need, but by the time she files the cases in the Sandiganbayan, there may be nobody to prosecute.

They may be laughing and living a life of luxury abroad with the pork barrel funds they stole from us.

That is why corruption will never be eradicated in the Philippines. It is so easy for the corrupt to escape the clutches of the law. We may have strict laws against corruption but if they cannot be enforced—no thanks to the Supreme Court—they are useless.

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What may happen in the pork barrel cases is that only the small fry—like Gigi Reyes, former chief of staff of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile—will be punished. The big fish will be allowed to escape.

It is so easy for the senators and congressmen to say that they did not authorize their chiefs of staff or other subordinates to sign documents in their behalf. They knew that what they were doing was illegal and that they could go to jail for it, so they used their subordinates as scapegoats and abandoned them to suffer the consequences.

In cases where their own signatures appear on the incriminating documents, the lawmakers and other public officials claim their signatures had been “forged.” Easy to say that.

Sen. Bong Revilla has even hired a “handwriting expert” to determine if his signatures were indeed forged. Of course his “expert” will find that his signatures were “forgeries.” That’s why he was hired in the first place. And who hired and is paying him good (or stolen?) money, anyway? Do you think that the hired “expert” will ever conclude that his boss’ signatures were genuine?

The moral of this tragedy is this: Do not do everything that your boss orders you to do if they are illegal. And do not believe them when they say “ako  ang  bahala  (I will take the responsibility).”

They won’t when the time of reckoning comes. They will always try to save their own skin, not yours. Look at what JPE has done to Gigi Reyes, his loyal chief of staff for 25 years.

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Like the remaining Moro National Liberation Front rebels still fighting in Zamboanga, congressmen will fight to the death to save their beloved pork barrel. Many of them ran for Congress because of it, in the first place. What use is being a congressman without the pork?

The House will ask the Supreme Court today to lift its TRO on the release of pork barrel. Again like the MNLF fighters using civilians as hostages, our “honorable” congressmen are using their scholars and medical patients as their own hostages.

Who will pay for their school fees and medical needs if you deprive us our Priority Development Assistance Fund? they plead. The Departments of Education and of Health, of course. Didn’t the congressmen say that the P25-billion pork barrel fund would be distributed among the executive agencies, such as the DepEd and DOH? Henceforth, it is these departments that will give the benefits to deserving recipients.

Congressmen want to continue giving these benefits not out of the goodness of their hearts but because they are buying votes with the pork barrel. The scholarships and medical assistance are another form of vote-buying using, not the congressmen’s own money, but taxpayers’ money. Where can you find a better deal than that?

It is not the job of lawmakers to provide scholarships and medical assistance. That is the job of the DepEd and DOH. The job of lawmakers is to legislate. Leave the execution to the executive branch. And then there are the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, which gives medical assistance to charity patients, and PhilHealth, which pays for part of its members’ medical bills.

Congressmen are trying to fool us. Realizing the people’s anger at the pork barrel scam, they made a show of abolishing the PDAF but merely realigned it in the budget. The pork barrel is not dead; it is alive, though in yet another disguise—like Dracula, who also refuses to die, disguised as a respectable gentleman, or Mr. Hyde in the personality of Dr. Jekyll.

Don’t be fooled. Don’t let up in the fight against the evil pork barrel system. Pork in all its forms must be abolished. That will be one victory against the corruption that is dragging Philippine society to perdition.

Overseas Filipino workers have demonstrated their anger through their Zero Remittance Day. Other groups have threatened a tax revolt. Lawmakers and the President are being shown the handwriting on the wall.

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