The Napoles question

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Thursday, April 24, 2014


BUSINESSWOMAN Janet Lim-Napoles is recovering at the Ospital ng Makati after undergoing surgery to remove her uterus and two ovaries. It has now turned out that her illness was serious. Her doctor, Efren Domingo, called it “severe adenomyosis of the uterus with multiple adenomyoma.” In simple terms, it was “life-threatening.”

But more serious was his decision to “tell all” about the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam for which she is facing a plunder case. While the nation is debating on whether she should be accepted as state witness or not, details of what she has divulged so far are trickling in.

A big chunk of what little information has surfaced thus far came from former senator Panfilo Lacson. He supposedly got this from one fourth-ream-thick draft affidavit he read during a meeting with Napoles’s husband Jimmy and her two children last month.

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This means that Napoles thought of “spilling the beans” as early as during that period.

Bits of the details can also be gleaned from the statements of Napoles’s lawyer, Bruce Rivera.

Lacson’s claims, though, still need to be verified. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago with whom he quarreled several months ago, has expressed the worry that Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile is behind Lacson’s move and that is is meant to muddle the coverage about Napoles’s testimony.

Anyway, here are some of the information that surfaced:

--The names of those involved in the scam were listed on two pieces of paper that had two rows each. Lacson said they number over a hundred officials of the present and previous administrations. These include at least 12 past and present senators. In the House of Representatives, “mahaba ‘yung listahan.” But Rivera said that the list that Lacson saw was incomplete. So the extent of the scam is wider than previously known.

--It wasn’t only Sens. Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla who got mind-boggling commissions from their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations. One unnamed senator reportedly got the “largest kickback.” He did not say, though, if the said senator is still with the Senate.

Anyway, this is why Napoles’s testimony is important. We do not want the other scammers to evade prosecution.

--It wasn’t only the PDAF that the lawmakers pilfered with. According to Lacson, “they also came from appropriations for departments. These were…used by senators or congressmen to allocate to the foundations of Mrs. Napoles and that’s where they get their kickbacks.” With this information, the Aquino administration should widen its perspective---that is, if it wants to clamp down on corruption effectively.

--Napoles is not the mastermind of the scam. Rivera said they have evidence to prove this. "Records will show that. We are confident with that. I can prove, and it is clear, that she is not the most guilt," he said. This seems to toe the line of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who earlier noted that Napoles could not have engineered the scam on her own.

On this, I found this interesting point from a blogger (equalizerpost.com). “Common sense dictates that the ‘brains’ of the pork barrel scam…must have the following qualifications: must know more than the legal basics; must know more than the rudiments of corporate law to form ‘fake NGOs’; must have clear understanding of the flow of documents and funds in the government bureaucracy; must be an experienced Congress insider; must know how to avoid the paper trail; must enjoy the ‘high trust’ of (those) involved in the scam.”

Considering Napoles’s background, the claim that she was not the real “mind” behind the scam sounds compelling.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 25, 2014.

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