Why De Lima should release her list now
Should Justice Secretary Leila de Lima make public the list given her by Janet Lim-Napoles of lawmakers, Cabinet members, and other executive officials who took part in the P10-billion pork barrel scam? De Lima said she would not, pointing out that it would sow confusion and disorder.
De Lima is being a responsible official, but I think she should release the list now. She wants to validate it to make sure that only the names of those who really dipped their hands into the pork barrel funds would be included. It would be unfair to those who are innocent if they are named in the list.
That is good and responsible of her. Unfortunately, things will not turn out the way she wants. With public curiosity at the current high level, certain persons who want to cast doubt on her list will release their own lists, claiming these are copies of the original Napoles list. These persons would be the lawmakers and other officials who shared in the pork barrel funds and would certainly be on the list. To cast doubt on the list in the hands of De Lima, they would make lists without their names but with the names of their rivals.
De Lima herself admits that there are already several lists. One is the list given by Napoles’ husband Jimmy to former senator Panfilo Lacson. Another is the list purportedly given to whistle-blower Sandra Cam. The Tribune has published its own list.
You can be sure that the various media entities will try to get ahead of their competitors by making public the Napoles list. They will be suckers for lists that are alleged copies of the genuine one.
The broadsheets (not the tabloids) are usually careful about the authenticity of documents given to them. But with the competition among the newspapers and television networks so keen, it would not be farfetched to speculate that some would let their guard down and gamble on the genuineness of the list given to them.
When De Lima finally releases the list given to her and some names in the first list are not there, especially if they are allies of President Aquino, people will say that the De Lima list has been “sanitized” and the names of P-Noy’s allies removed. Much doubt, therefore, would be cast on the original list in De Lima’s hands, even if it is the genuine one. Hence, there would be confusion and skepticism, which she is trying to prevent in the first place by not immediately releasing the list given her. That would work to the advantage of the real culprits and to the disadvantage of the innocent ones whose names would be included in the lists released by the guilty ones. Then there would really be havoc and disorder.
On the other hand, if De Lima releases her list now but with the statement that the Department of Justice is still looking at the evidence, that would still be responsible of her; at the same time, it would not lead to conclusions that would play right into the hands of the real culprits. Let those named defend themselves.
The list is a public document. Anyway, the DOJ, the Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit will still investigate for more evidence, and those against whom there is not enough evidence will not be charged at the Sandiganbayan.
But for as long as the list is kept secret, there will be not only speculation but also a malicious effort to include those not in the original list in order to sow confusion.
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For now, it is difficult to make a responsible guess as to who are listed. There are 13 former and incumbent senators in Lacson’s list. It is easier to guess who are NOT in the list.
Lacson and former senator Joker Arroyo will surely not be there because they did not use their pork barrel funds. Alfredo Lim also did not use his pork barrel funds when he was a senator. The new senators—Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, Cynthia Villar, JV Ejercito, etc.—will not be there because they took office after the scam was pulled off by Napoles.
However, many past and present members of the House of Representatives will be listed because most of them ran for Congress due to their greed for the pork barrel in the first place. A few of them have already left the country. Lacson said there are more than 100 in his list.
One thing sure to result from the scandal is that not many candidates would be running for Congress or spending so much during the campaign. Without the pork barrel, there is no way they would be able to recover their election expenses.
As for the Cabinet members and other executive officials, the guessing is easy. What are the departments and the offices under them that were used by Napoles as conduits of her bogus nongovernment organizations? The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Reform, and the offices under them, lead the probables. A number of their officials have applied to be state’s witnesses in order to rat on their colleagues to save their own skin.
It was reported that Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad had been summoned to Malacañang to shed light on their purported roles in the pork barrel scam. They said, however, that they had indeed been summoned by the President but that the scam was not discussed.
Some people say Abad is probably not involved in Napoles’ scam but that he may have benefited from it when he was serving as the representative of Batanes. Others wonder how Napoles and her cohorts were able to have the Department of Budget and Management issue the special allotment release orders so easily. One thing sure: The DBM was very lenient in releasing funds while Napoles was engaged in her caper.
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