Amnesia epidemic breaks out among lawmakers
A diarrhea outbreak appears to have hit North Cotabato. Saudi Arabia has been hit by an outbreak of MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus), a disease that can be fatal.
In Metro Manila, an amnesia epidemic has broken out. Curiously, the epidemic is limited to lawmakers, Cabinet members and other government officials named in the lists of Janet Napoles, alleged mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam, and whistle-blower Benhur Luy. They can’t remember anything related to Napoles. They are suddenly afflicted with very poor memory.
The reactions of these people in relation to Napoles can be summed up thus: “I don’t know her, I have never met her, I have not had any dealings with her.”
This, even when there are photographs of them with Napoles.
This, even when their names are recorded in Luy’s bookkeeping files. Confronted with these pieces of evidence, they would probably react this way: “I don’t remember that.” Is it amnesia, or maybe Alzheimer’s disease?
Poor Janet Napoles, she must be very lonely. The rich and famous and the high and mighty whom she had invited to her lavish parties and to whom she had distributed money like manna from heaven have deserted her at a time when she needs them most. They don’t know her, or they don’t remember her.
But Napoles remembers them well, so well that she has listed them in her affidavit and narrated how she gave them kickbacks, and how much, for their PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) allocations to her bogus nongovernment organizations.
She has given copies of this list to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and (through her husband) to former senator Panfilo Lacson. Other third parties claim they have copies of her list, but she has yet to confirm that claim.
And here is another curious thing: When De Lima and Lacson refused to make public the lists given them, there was a clamor from lawmakers and the public to release these immediately. But when Lacson gave his list to the Senate blue ribbon committee, which is investigating the pork barrel scam, and which released it to media networks which then made it public, there was an angry uproar from the same lawmakers who had demanded the release of the list in the first place.
Why? Because their names are on the list.
Now there is a mad scramble to discredit the Lacson list and other lists that may come after it, including the De Lima list which was signed by Napoles herself and is therefore a valid legal document.
Critics say there are too many lists, that these are fake, and that these are intended to muddle the issue. Not to worry. De Lima has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation and government prosecutors to study the evidence. Only those to whom the evidence will lead will be prosecuted. Fair enough?
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An amusing sidebar is the reaction of the fiery Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago to Lacson’s list, in which her name is included. She said that she is not in the list given to Lacson by Napoles’ husband and that Lacson added her name out of spite. She also said it is the Luy list that is more credible.
“I am pushing to get the list of Benhur Luy,” Santiago said. “I understand that the Luy list is substantiated by documents and details.”
And indeed it is. And Santiago is in it. It showed that Santiago allotted P5 million of her PDAF to coffee growers in Agusan del Norte in 2005 and that her agent, Zenaida Ducut, got a P2.5 million “rebate” on the senator’s behalf.
Santiago then made a complete turn-around. “I denounce as false the allegations against me as drawn from the Luy list. All the documents are fake. I have no clue about the alleged details, which are all falsified or fictitious,” she said.
She added that the “fake Luy list” could have been manufactured and distributed by a syndicate.
Then she turned legalistic, as lawyers often do. She said Luy’s list had not been authenticated under the Rules of Court and, hence, is not admissible as evidence. She added that if Luy’s list included documents, these should first be authenticated before publication.
“The Luy list has no proof of the attestation of any public document, and no proof of the authenticity of any private document,” the senator said. “Thus the Luy list constitutes no proof at all against me and others like me. The Luy list is nothing but mudslinging. How sad for our country that such villainy has come to pass.”
“If corruption is this bad, maybe I should run for president, on the same anticorruption platform from which I have fulminated all these years,” she added.
Santiago once ran for president. She lost to Fidel V. Ramos.
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