Benhur leaks

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By Arnold Alamon

Wrapped in Grey

Friday, May 16, 2014


LET us remember that in the weeks prior to the current madness over lists, there was first a development in the status of the woman at the center of it all. Perhaps realizing that she will soon be done away with to the ultimate benefit of all political camps, Janet Lim Napoles wants to turn state witness. As a final bargaining chip, she agrees to tell all before Sec. de Lima in the form of a list of all the public officials and elected politicians she had pork dealings with.

Instead of releasing the list immediately in the name of transparency and public accountability, however, the brave justice secretary suddenly became timid and cautious citing the need for backing documentary evidence as a precondition for its publication. This fueled speculation of a cover-up through possible back room dealings to determine who will remain or be dropped from the list of notoriety.

No less than the president himself then revealed that he had seen two versions of the list that according to him do not tally with each other. From out of the blue, the president’s rehab czar entered the fray and publicly released the names of the senators and congressmen included in yet another list provided to him by Jimmy Napoles, the ex-military husband of embattled Janet. In between all this, is another character claiming to have her own, Sandra Cam.

The objective must be to confuse or discredit whatever list that may possibly come out from wherever source thereon. What is an emerging scenario is that all warring camps in this scandal are bound to have dirt on their faces when the truth finally comes out. So it’s better to smear the guilt around.

So where is the truth in all this madness? It is not on a list printed in a few pages of paper with or without signed affidavits from polluted sources. Believe it or not, it could possibly be in a single hard drive with 2,156 folders, inside them 20,103 files.

Apparently, when Benhur Luy was under the custody of the Napoleses, one of the preconditions set by his “abductors” was the return of a laptop where the records of the pork transactions were kept. Smart Benhur, he duplicated all these in a separate hard drive as his personal insurance. Here detailed were pork transactions that could top the estimated 10 billion pesos lost in the people’s funds in a money-making scheme that lined the pockets of the Napoleses and government officials.

What is suspicious is how the DOJ, presumably in possession of these same voluminous digital files since they have Luy in their custody, dragged their feet in combing this treasure trove of information to launch an honest-to-goodness anti-corruption drive that hold no sacred cows. Government, therefore, had access to all these information just about the same time as the Inquirer sometime April 2013 but failed to act on these and instead trained their guns on their political enemies.

In this instance, the Inquirer has done the Filipino people a great service in releasing a series of headline stories on the contents of Benhur’s hard drive. Although it is cunning for them to also wait for the right timing for publication given the current developments in the case when they had all the data in their possession all along.

They have also been very selective and deliberate in choosing what contents to feature so far. In the series they put out, the paper bared once again the Napoleses’ excessive lifestyle and joined the bandwagon in indicting practically the whole Senate for the esteemed members’ involvement in the scam. The most recent headline story they have detail the incentives given to agents who facilitate these transactions.

If one were to read between the lines, however, the contents of what I imagine to be gigabytes of scanned documents and notes actually outline the infestation of the Napoles scheme inside various line agencies involving cabinet secretaries, undersecretaries leading all the way to the cabal in Malacañang. But are these details currently the subject of negotiations that is why they are being brought out to the public selectively and piecemeal?

This makes Benhur’s hard drive the proverbial smoking gun to come out in the long twisted tale of the pork barrel scam. But they are throwing one smokescreen after another to confuse us. Our obsession about these various lists proliferating now should shift toward a committed and vigilant exposition of the contents of this hard drive. Is there a Filipino Julian Assange who will post the digital treasure trove online ala-wikileaks? Will Inquirer do it in the name of transparency? This time we will refer to it in honor of the man who lived up to his name as a witness to the truth – “Benhur leaks.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 16, 2014.

Opinion

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