Editorial: The list, at last

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014


THE affidavit of Janet Napoles is finally out, and with it a list of 120 lawmakers who allegedly worked with her to divert public funds to some non-government organizations (NGOs).

Of interest to Cebuanos—apart from the inclusion of half of the incumbent Senate—is the appearance of at least four Cebuanos’ names on the list: Antonio Cuenco, Raul del Mar, Gerald Gullas and Clavel Martinez.

Sun.Star Cebu editorial cartoon: Janet Napoles box
Editorial cartoon by Josua Cabrera of Sun.Star Cebu

Napoles alleged in her affidavit that in 2004, then congresswoman Martinez worked with her to get P5 million for a project that was supposed to be implemented by the agriculture department. Martinez, she added, also worked as an agent for other legislators who served with her on the Commission on Appointments. The Martinez camp, represented by the former congresswoman’s son Celestino III, responded by asking for “evidence, not assumptions.”

On the supposed deals with Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada—with whom Napoles is facing graft and plunder charges—the affidavit provides several details like the numbers of the Special Allotment Release Orders (SARO) that allowed funds to move. This gives investigators and prosecutors a chance to latch on to firmer proof.

But no such paper trail was revealed as far as the Cebuanos on the list are concerned, at least not yet.

So until additional evidence turns up, a public that has grown increasingly weary with this whole mess will have to wait some more for the picture to get clearer and for the facts to be brought to light.

There is important and challenging work to do, some processes and institutions to repair in order to prevent scams like this. There is also a more powerful executive department to keep in check, now that what used to be the congressional pork barrel has shifted to departments under its control.

One thing the disclosure of the Napoles list has done is remind us that while she may be in the eye of this particular storm, she certainly did not act alone. The list of those who must be held accountable is bound to be long, and the details of their shenanigans gut-wrenching. Here’s a long list no one will be able to make short work of.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 28, 2014.

Opinion

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