Jinggoy, Enrile and Binay

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014


I HAVE seen Sens. Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile being interviewed on television at least twice since Ruby Tuason returned to the country to testify against them in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (Pdaf) scam involving Janet Lim-Napoles.

Tuason, the former social secretary of former president Joseph Estrada, had claimed receiving for Jinggoy and Enrile, the latter through his aide Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, millions of pesos as their share in the Pdaf allocations that they allegedly skimmed using Napoles’s bogus organizations.

I could see smugness in the two senators faces as they answered questions from reporters. If they were worried about Tuason’s testimony, they succeeded in hiding it--but not the artificiality of it all. I still could not help but feel that the smugness was contrived, a mere put-on.

The plunder cases lodged by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against Jinggoy, Enrile and another senator, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., together with a few other respondents, are still being evaluated by the Office of the Ombudsman. There’s no doubt that Tuason’s testimony, if ever she is accepted as state witness, would strengthen the said cases.

But as long as the cases have not been filed with the court, in this instance the Sandiganbayan, Jinggoy, Enrile and the others would remain free to put on that contrived smugness. They wouldn’t be made to account yet for the millions of pesos in people’s money they allegedly siphoned to their private accounts—-even if plunder is non-bailable.

Of the two, it is Jinggoy’s smugness that is very irritating. He smiles and jokes his way around his answers. A colleague told me that this must be because he had been through this same situation when he was respondent in another plunder case together
with his father years back.

Which makes the contrived smugness doubly infuriating.

***

Vice President Jejomar Binay is an ally of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former president Joseph Estrada and, by extension, the latter’s son Jinggoy. But he managed to distance himself from his allies’ woes largely by making himself scarce from reporters and by being generally quiet.

Binay broke his silence recently when he engaged Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in a word war over the interpretation of the significance of Tuason’s testimony. The vice president had scoffed at de Lima’s upbeat reaction to Tuason’s surfacing, something that the justice secretary interpreted as a belittling of their evidence against Binay’s allies.

I think that it’s good for the public if the verbal exchange between Binay and de Lima will continue. It is time for the vice president, whose presidential ambition is no longer a secret, to be drawn out of his shell on the pork barrel issue and the alleged Napoles scam. As they say, he can’t have his cake and eat it too.

Binay, for now, is widely believed to be the top contender for the post that President Noynoy Aquino will vacate in 2016. His statements on the case involving his allies will determine the kind of presidency that this country will have if he wins. It is never too early for the public to unmask this early bird in the presidential race.

On this, I like a comment I read somewhere in Facebook.

Indeed, had Aquino not decided to run for president in 2010, Erap would have won with Binay. Enrile would still have been Senate president and Jinggoy the next powerful man in the Senate. Impunity would have continued to rule and the Pdaf scam wouldn’t have been exposed.

That was a fate we missed by a hairline in 2010. Will we be as lucky in 2016 with the next batch of presidentiables?

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 12, 2014.

Opinion

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