Editorial: The scam and being objective-A A +A
Saturday, August 17, 2013
SO MUCH stuff has spilled out in the media regarding the “P10 billion” pork barrel scam. It is in situations like this that one is enticed to jump to conclusion, thus the need to shout caution.
First off, the “P10 billion” tag may not be accurate because the figures for it were mainly provided by the National Bureau of Investigation through “whistle blower” Benhur K. Luy.
The Commission on Audit (COA) and other concerned agencies are still looking at actual documents to find out the actual damage the scam inflicted on government coffers. It is even possible we may never know the real amount the government lost to the scammers.
The wealth of Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brain in the pork barrel scam, may give the public a glimpse of the extent of money the government lost in the scam.
When a Makati court issued a warrant for her arrest following the filing of a separate case for her alleged detention of Luy, details on the number of her properties (houses, vehicles) also surfaced. She could be a billionaire judging from reports that have come out.
But in fairness to Napoles, how the wealth was acquired is yet to be fully established by investigators. This is the reason why Napoles’s lawyer has been complaining about her client being unjustly pilloried.
At the other end of the spectrum are the lawmakers whose Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) were channeled to dubious non-government organizations created by Napoles.
But while the link has been established, there’s still the problem of proving that these lawmakers benefitted from the setup.
Or one can look at it in a different way. While there has been a flood of information about Napoles (including that of her daughter supposedly flaunting their wealth), little follow-ups have been done on the lawmakers linked to the businesswoman.
There seems to be unanimity as far as treading the grounds leading to these lawmakers’ yards. Malacañang, government probers, Congress, even the media seem to have become too timid in looking into these lawmakers’ possible involvement in the scam.
The point is, we may have stumbled into the “mother of all scams” post-Marcos. But despite all the noise that we have been hearing after the scam has been exposed, there is the danger that only the surface will eventually be scratched by probers.
Which means that Napoles may end up in jail but not the people who provided her the funds and who may have gotten a big share of the loot and partly used these to fool the voters into electing them to office.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 17, 2013.