Janet a principal in pork crime
Randy David’s May 29 column (“Corruption of the highest order”) really hit the nail on its head. Briefly, he opined that Janet Lim Napoles could not have needed a mentor for the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam. To project herself as not the most guilty in her bid to be considered a state’s witness, Napoles claimed in her expanded counter-affidavit that she was not the mastermind of this monumental scam—meaning this was not her invention—but rather crooked government officials, particularly Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, her alleged mentor.
This spin is all hogwash.
First, if Napoles is not the most guilty as she now claims, why did she have to detain Benhur Luy, then her finance officer and most trusted accomplice, after she reportedly suspected the latter of going his separate way in this lucrative criminal enterprise?
Second, it must be recalled that in 2000 or thereabouts, she was already accused, as owner of Jo Chris Trading, of delivering fake or substandard and overpriced Kevlar helmets to the military. And was she not also investigated by the Senate in the 2004 P728-million fertilizer scam? She was able to extricate herself in the investigation only because she was able to convince the senators that her Jo Chris Trading was not engaged in supplying fertilizer products.
Finally, from her alleged role in the PDAF scam, Napoles reportedly graduated to the wholesale racket of laundering the Malampaya Fund.
In any case, it does appear that Napoles used her knowledge of the workings and weaknesses of the Philippine political system to build a lucrative business. As David (one of the more objective and critical newspaper columnists I admire) stated, from the late 1990s when she started as a small-time supplier of goods to the military, Napoles “slowly built a network of connections and an organizational capability that enabled her to confidently move in the circle of government contractors.” This fact alone should qualify her as being more guilty than—or, at least, equally as guilty as—the principal players.
All told, while she could not have done what she admittedly did without the collusion of the concerned public officials, Napoles indubitably acted as a principal by direct or actual participation. And perhaps as principal by inducement as well, if we consider that she enticed public officials to part with the people’s money in return for a kickback. Simply put, one need not be a crook to qualify as a principal crook now.
—DIOSDADO V. CALONGE,
former director, Prosecution Bureau,
Office of the Ombudsman,
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