Senate not proper forum for Napoles query

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014


FIT to be tied after their names appeared in the list of those who, Janet Napoles claimed, were involved in the pork barrel scam, senators are raring for the chance to confront her. If they had their way, they would probably stop nothing short of dragging Napoles by her bleeding you-know-what to the Senate floor where they can take turns bloodying her some more.

I cannot blame the senators for being indignant but I doubt whether bringing back Napoles to their house will help the search for truth in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scandal. Pardon my pessimism but I do not see how anything substantial could be gained in subjecting Napoles to another round of questioning by senators who heard her say the first time that she appeared before them that she knew nothing about the scam and who are understandably obsessed with punching holes in her story and saving their own skin.

It’s going to be one huge lynching party.

I have no love lost for Napoles; in fact, it can be said that she brought this upon herself but what’s the point in making her prey to the overwhelming anger of senators?

Any Senate hearing on the Napoles list cannot be remotely justified as in aid of
legislation. No, it is not even an exercise of their oversight functions.

Plainly stated, the Senate is not the proper forum to determine whether Napoles spoke the truth with her affidavit. That power resides in the Ombudsman and eventually, the Sandiganbayan. What we want to see now is: for the Department to Justice (DOJ) to speed up the filing of cases against all those involved in the scam, regardless of whether they appear in the Napoles list or not; for the Ombudsman to resolve the cases already filed; and for the Sandiganbayan to hold trial without delay.

We can’t afford to turn the Napoles case into a political circus. This is a criminal case; it rightfully belongs in the judicial system. It is not impossible that many of the senators and, for that matter, congressmen appearing in her list of pork barrel scam participants, are innocent and have been wrongly accused for reasons only she knows.

But like any other citizen under the same set of circumstances, they should seek relief from the courts. The Senate is not a trier of facts. The courts are. If the DOJ or the Ombudsman or the Sandiganbayan clears them, such determination of innocence would carry far more weight than any similar finding by the Senate.

***

I don’t care if the city’s crime statistics last year were doctored. The crime volume this year may be lower, instead of higher, compared to last year’s but I still do not feel safe in the streets.

The criminals are getting bolder every day. Last Sunday, three men went on a crime binge in the Transcentral Highway, commandeering vehicles and shooting at least two people. The indiscriminate choice of victims and the seeming lack of motive are very disturbing.

I know that our policemen are hard-working but I cannot accept the fact that the criminals seem to be always a move ahead of them, thumbing at their noses. That cannot and should not happen.

As it is, Cebu City Police Chief Noli Romana is already under a lot of pressure. I do not want to add more burden on his shoulders but he and his men have to find those three men and neutralize them. The city is not safe for as long as they are loose.

I know that I will get into trouble for this and that the Cebu City mayor has declared that RL is not just Rama-Labella but also stands for the rule of law. But in the light of the seeming impunity with which criminals victimize the citizens, isn’t it about time we revisit the Duterte Solution?

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 29, 2014.

Opinion

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