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Wrapped in Grey
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
THE pork barrel scam has captured the national imagination for the past months and the various twists and turns of the story has provided us with not just disturbing entertainment but also an insider peek into the workings of politics and media in these parts.
The most recent of these developments which has become a scandal in its own right is the early morning surrender of Janet Napoles to no less than the president himself in Malacañang. After which, she was transported to Camp Crame with the president himself in the lead vehicle of the convoy supposedly to check for himself the suspect and fugitive's confinement quarters. This was after securing her by key members of the president's press office in a spy thriller moment at a posh cemetery in Bonifacio Global City earlier that evening.
The people's reaction to these events was swift and unforgiving. Noting the special treatment accorded to the loathed scam operator by the highest office of the land and the obvious coddling by the police and Sec. Roxas, citizens rightfully raised hell and even pointed more questions.
It seemed another miscalculation of public sentiment after Malacañang's "abolition" announcement just before the One Million People March at Luneta. But as many suspected, the inappropriate goings-on and the contorted justifications of Malacañang that followed these new developments, seemed more like necessary concessions to a woman who once said she owned government. The special treatment she now enjoys, justified by the Palace because of supposed threats to her life, confirms her clout or at the very least her importance to the present administration.
Janet Napoles is important to all political camps that is for sure. Through the decades, she had provided immeasurable bounty to many congressmen, senators, local government officials and NGOs and her direct knowledge about these dealings across political camps is her greatest leverage. Now, whoever has her physically also gains that same leverage.
That I believe is the reason behind the hoopla behind her arrest. It wasn't just for Mar's pogi points but it was an elaborate declaration that this administration has in their control someone who can incriminate one and all. For all we know, she has been kept by government all along and this administration was merely waiting for the opportune time to grab public discourse back from the one million march mass action that seriously undermined the government's own anti-corruption drive. It is clear though that we can expect Janet Napoles to spare Malacañang and government allies in her future testimonies.
At this point, the first round of the game is over. And the one who has the ace so to speak is this administration. We should expect that Napoles will divulge information against the political opponents of this administration and this is in keeping with the original plan which is to direct public anger to the Napoleses and connect to her to the politicians of the previous administration and other unfriendly forces.
Furthermore, there are also attempts to float the idea that behind Napoles is a mastermind. Inquirer columnist Randy David in his column revealed that he had been told by Janet that there is a big fish behind the scam who had since fled abroad. This information volunteered by the sociologist at this time when public opinion is sustained against her guilt suspiciously foregrounds the government tact to turn her into a state witness -- a confirmation once again of the horse-trading culture that mires our political system where even media personalities/academicians are not insulated.
In light of the recent events and despite media and government machinations, the cry for the abolishment of the pork barrel system in all forms and the persecution of the guilty including Napoles and the politicians she has connived with has never been louder and clearer.
Come September 11, a lantern protest parade against these ills will take place at the UP Diliman campus starting at 3 pm and a prayer vigil at the Edsa Shrine starting at 6 am also on the same day is slated. After the successful One Million People March last August 26, these new activities are part of the series actions to be undertaken by people in assertion of their independent and critical voice to counter the government-run political teleserye.
In this continuing game of thrones, the politicians seem to be ignoring an important wild card that can change the terms of their game altogether. Largely because they are so used to regard this force with contempt as they have callously shown in the pork barrel scandal and government's own handling of this issue. The wild card is the people. And they have seen through the Napoles sham and the politicians' hand behind all these. In political struggles after all, the people hold the last card.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 03, 2013.