Janet Napoles’s other scam
It should be clear by now that the supposed tell-all exposé of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, complete with her own list of lawmakers and other personalities supposedly involved in the scam, is actually an elaborate scheme to evade moral responsibility and legal liability for the plunder of government funds. The soap opera she cunningly performed from her hospital bed, and which successfully courted national attention, was in fact designed to muddle the issue, confuse public opinion, and undermine the legal process. In sum, it was—it is—just another scam.
That she thinks the disinformation she is purveying qualifies her to be a state’s witness is an insult and an outrage. She has the gall to describe herself as a victim of the same political culture she is accused of profiting billions of pesos from; in truth, her affidavit is best described, as many have already described it, not as a tell-all but a blame-all.
The elements of Napoles’ second scam are now evident. First, there is the promise of something big. In the case of the pork barrel scam, that was the possibility that millions of pesos in Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations could end up in lawmakers’ pockets. In the case of the “Napolist” scam, it is the possibility that the truth behind the scam will finally be revealed.
Then there is the patina of official recognition. With the PDAF allocations, there was the cooperation of the various senators and congressmen involved; this was the necessary element. In this new scam, it was—we regret to say this—Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s readiness to believe that, facing the possibility of death, Napoles was ready to bare all. De Lima has since observed a proper distance from Napoles’ sensational accusations, but her unwitting participation in the early part of Napoles’ choreography of revelation was essential to gaining the nation’s rapt attention.
Then there is the performance of fraud itself.
As with any piece of disinformation, Napoles’ affidavit includes specific or seemingly specific facts: precise assertions about sums of money and meeting places. We do not doubt that some or many of these facts will be proven true. Note, for instance, that there is some overlap between her “data” and the evidence already gathered by the Department of Justice and vetted by the Office of the Ombudsman, regarding certain lawmakers. But other assertions are simply fantastic—that is to say, a product of her fantasy.
When Manny Villar, then Senate president, began to plan a presidential run before the 2010 elections, he was forthcoming about how much money he, a self-made billionaire, would have to put up himself. Does anyone believe that Napoles gave a campaign donation to Villar, or that Villar even needed donations in the first place?
As columnist Randy David has also pointed out, it beggars belief that someone like Butch Abad would serve as Napoles’ mentor in the plunder of pork barrel funds; to those who know Abad’s work in civil society, the assertion just doesn’t compute—unless the arithmetic is political, and meant to undermine the credibility of the Aquino administration pursuing the pork barrel scam cases.
The listing of “Doña Señora” Ruby Tuason seems like an inside joke, designed to make Tuason appear more involved in, more central to, the scam. Tuason has already admitted her participation, as a broker who worked with Sen. Jinggoy Estrada. Questions remain whether Tuason has told the Senate blue ribbon committee and the DOJ everything she knows, but it is a stretch to claim that Napoles took orders from or heeded directions set by her, rather than the other way around.
When she visited the Inquirer last August, Napoles denied everything. She even denied knowing the specifics of her purported coal business in Indonesia, which
(together with what she said were major real estate investments) supposedly explain her vast wealth. Now the nation is being asked to believe that she remembers every detail of every pork-barrel-scam-related transaction she ever entered into. It would be sheer folly to take her at her word.
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