Sad day for journalism-A A +A
Friday, August 30, 2013
I ARRIVED from a two-day conference of station managers under Radyo GMA (RGMA) network in Manila yesterday afternoon. I was greeted by the news about the conviction of our colleague, ABS-CBN Cebu top anchor and The Freeman/Banat News columnist, Leo Lastimosa, for libel. This stemmed from the case filed by former governor and now third district Rep. Gwen Garcia, whom Leo described in his Freeman column as “Doling Kawatan.”
I won’t question the decision of RTC Branch 14 Presiding Judge Rafael Yrastorza who convicted Lastimosa. I hope there was no other reason for his conviction. Leo can appeal the ruling with the Court of Appeals and up to the Supreme Court.
This is a sad day for journalism. To our colleague and friend Leo, go on. They cannot put a good man down.
Whether scripted or not, the surrender of fugitive businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles to President Noynoy Aquino III should be welcomed. The most important thing is that she is in government custody.
But let us be clear on this. The case that Napoles is facing before a Makati Regional Trial Court has nothing to do with the multi-billion-peso Priority Development Assistant Fund (PDAF) scam.
She is detained for the case of serious illegal detention filed against her by her former employee and relative who turned whistle-blower, Benhur Luy. This clarification is needed as some people think the misery of Napoles now has something to do with the pork barrel scam.
Napoles voluntarily surrendered to President Aquino Wednesday night following the latter’s announcement that the government is offering a P10-million reward for her capture. Napoles said she surrendered because she feared for her life. She is now detained at the Makati City Jail.
Serious illegal detention is a non-bailable offense. I doubt if her lawyers can
convince the court for her to post bail. Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is facing an electoral sabotage case, also a non-bailable offense, managed to post bail. But the two cases are entirely different.
The Department of Justice through the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has yet to file a plunder case against Napoles for her alleged participation in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam. Plunder is also a non-bailable offense.
There are suggestions from some quarters that the government should get Napoles as state witness so she can pin down the lawmakers who funneled their pork barrel funds to dubious NGOs organized by her.
For me, Napoles should not be a state witness because she is an active participant in the entire scam. A state witness should be “less guilty.”
Napoles is not “less guilty” in this scam. She masterminded everything by duping lawmakers into extending financial assistance to the fake NGOs she organized. She should be hanged first.
But let us wait if the government has enough pieces of evidence to convict her. And what about the lawmakers who abused their pork barrel? Well, they will have their day
Based on a Commission on Audit (COA) report, many lawmakers abused their pork barrel using questionable NGOs. Even former and incumbent Cebu congressmen are being linked to this practice.
Former Reps. Eduardo Gullas of the first district and Inday Nerry Soon-Ruiz of the sixth district are being questioned. Incumbent sixth district Rep. Luigi Quisumbing is also in the list. But they denied any involvement of any scam.
They vouched for the legitimacy of the NGOs that received their financial aid. How can they be sure? What are these NGOs and what are their advocacies and accomplishments?
The problem with these legislators, granting that the giving of their financial aid was honest, is that they failed to monitor the progress of these NGOs as if they were throwing away taxpayers money.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 31, 2013.