What will have more profound impact on society, Janet Napoles going to jail or a bunch of senators and congressman going to jail?
Media has been fueling speculations about the Napoles surrender as if it was a privilege that was accorded to her because of her irresistible influence and connections or that it fits with some kind of Palace masterplan to destroy the opposition.
It was not a privilege. Napoles surrendered to the president because she believed he could guarantee her safety. She had accused the NBI of extortion. Who in their right mind would surrender to the very people you accuse of extortion?
She was also a threat to those legislators who are suspected of conniving with her. She could bring them down with her.
She tried to surrender to Cardinal Tagle but he, unlike other bishops, knows the line between church and state. He refused to become involved.
Ultimately, Napoles was the only one who could decide whether to surrender or not and to whom to surrender. When she decided to surrender to the president, he was left with one of two options, accept her surrender or keep looking for her. If you were the president what would you do?
The more important issue is the speculation that the surrender of Napoles was some kind of masterplan to destroy the opposition. The spin fits perfectly with the attempts of the suspected associates of Napoles to deflect the people’s anger.
Remember the initial reaction of the suspects when the Napoles case first hit the front pages? They asked why only us the opposition; what about administration allies? They also decried the drip-drip of information coming from the Commission on Audit and the Justice Department.
They had a good propaganda line until the COA report finally came out and the entire list of legislators and NGOs were published. That forced the suspected legislators to shift gears. They began to point to the P3B error involving Rep. Zamora and the Luis Abalos who turned out to be BenHur, as if those minor errors that the COA clarified immediately were enough to discredit the report in its entirety. They began characterizing the report as riddled with errors, asking how it can be trusted if such blatant mistakes were not seen right away. Well, you can’t blame suspects for exploring every avenue to save their asses.
As early as the midnight presson of DILG secretary Mar Roxas one reporter already tried to put a negative spin on the Napoles surrender. She was so insistent on injecting doubt that an exasperated Mar Roxas asked her, “ano ba ito, sala sa lamig sala sa init?”
The reporter who I assume was only trying to put a dramatic angle to the story unwittingly plowed the field for Jinggoy Estrada to plant seeds of doubt in an otherwise straightforward surrender.
Today Jinggoy Estrada faced media and said, “I’m not saying that she will be used. But there are chances since she is already in government custody. As I mentioned earlier, some unscrupulous elements might just put words into her mouth.” In other words, it’s all part of a script?
It would be great if everyone involved in the scam were to land in jail, but what if you had to plea bargain with Napoles to get the senators and congressmen, would you? I would.
I would allow her to plea to a lesser sentence, even probation, if she can give testimony that will lead to a conviction for those senators and congressmen. Because that will have a more profound impact on the national psyche. In a few years, Napoles will just be another crook convicted of corruption but a bunch of senators and congressmen going to jail is for the history books.
Napoles could turn from a heel to a hero, if she makes the right choice.
We have become too fixated on the corruption relating to pork barrel and we have lose sight of the fact that there are people who really need help. There are plenty of them. And many of them have been helped.
Unfortunately, we have this black and white approach of “Let’s abolish pork. Period.” So everybody pays for the sins of the few.
But the only question worth asking is, did the intended beneficiaries get what they were supposed to get?
If the answer is yes, then don’t take their assistance away. If the answer is no, then look at why they did not get it and find a way to ensure that they get it.
The fault lies with the senator or congressman. The legislator requested the allocation, identified the beneficiaries, picked the implementing agency and recommended to it the NGO that will receive the funds.
Puno at dulo ang importante. All that matters is for the beneficiaries to get what they need. In full.
It is not the existence of pork that is wrong, what is wrong is the way that some have used it. The problem is the pigs not the pork barrel. What is there to complain about if assistance goes to those who really need it?
The million people march on the 26th asks (1) for the abolition of pork barrel; (2) for the investigation and prosecution of those involved in the scam.
I agree with the second reason. As to the first, let’s give it more serious thought -for the sake of those who have been helped and continue to be helped by small-scale infra-projects like irrigation systems, safe drinking water, waiting sheds, small bridges so that school children don’t have to balance themselves on makeshift bridges crossing streams on their way to school, rural clinics, etc.; and those who have been helped and continue to be helped by soft pork like medical assistance, vaccination programs, feeding programs, livelihood training programs, farm implements, scholarships, help to bury their dead etc.
It is the micro-level assistance provided by good pork that makes me hesitate adding my voice to the clamor for the outright abolition of all types of pork. Many of those who call for the abolition of pork are a step removed from the lives of the intended beneficiaries of pork. They can take the long macro-view.
Don’t get me wrong. I too beleieve that looking at the big picture is good. However, while we think big and long, let’s also not forget that millions of our people simply have to make it through the day.
Let’s make sure that those who live day to day, hand to mouth, can live long enough to benefit from the long-term all-encompassing solutions that we are cooking up for them.
There is a simple way to make pork work. Hold the legislators accountable. First and last. No fingerpointing to implementing agencies or NGOs. If something goes wrong along the way then it is the legislator’s fault. He has to fix it himself.
Because there is no excuse in the world that will justify why a legislator’s pork goes to other than his intended beneficiaries. The only way pork can be lost is if the legislator steals it or does not keep a watchful eye over it. If he does not have the resources to monitor his projects then he should not embark on them. He will just be throwing away money that can be spent on those who need it. He should just give his pork projects to some other legislator who can make it happen.
The important thing is for pork to get to intended beneficiaries. In full. It does not really matter how it gets to benficiaries as long as it gets to them. Beneficiaries don’t really give a shit how it gets to them as long as they get it, right?
Let’s call for full transparency on the part of the legislators. Every allocation, every project, every distribution, must be reported in detail, progress and completion reports, all readily available to the public as they happen. That way responsibility is clear and accountability can be exacted.
Let’s fix the problem without hurting those who need it most.
A new video of controversial LTO chief Virginia Torres playing a slot machine in one of the local casinos surfaced a day after an earlier and poorly shot video of her doing the same thing was uploaded on YouTube. The new video made her response to the original video sound like a lie.
“Yes, I remember having dinner with a friend in a hotel. While waiting for the bill to be settled, I saw the slot machine on the lower floor and out of curiosity, I sat in front of one machine and marveled at the lights and read the instructions. I immediately left when the bill was paid. This happened way back.”
How can she get out of the jam she’s in? By revising her initial response with something more plausible, something that if it matches how she looks then so much the better.
“Yes, I remember having dinner with a friend in a hotel. While waiting for the bill to be settled, I discreetly asked the waiter for the location of the nearest ATM machine. You see I decided to pay for our dinner but I had no cash on me. The waiter pointed me to the lower floor. I went down to the lower floor where I was immediately overwhelmed by banks of ATM machines with colorful flashing lights and catchy sound effects. I had never seen ATMs like that before. I had no idea how to operate them so I sat in front of one machine to read the instructions. I pressed the buttons after I thought I understood the instructions. But nothing happened. And that’s why you saw me in that new video standing up and moving to another ATM machine. I was so embarrassed when I learned they were slot machines and not ATMs. This happened way back, when I first arrived in Metro Manila from Tarlac.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada who has been prominently linked to the pork barrel scam refiled a bill he calls the Magna Carta for Journalists.
“Marami rin kayong mga kasamahan at kakilala na talagang hindi naman lehitimong miyembro ng media. Maraming bogus na media personalities. Itong bill na ito I believe would promote the welfare of our friends from the media,” he said by way of explaining why the hell anybody who wants to be a journalist must first pass an exam prepared and administered by a panel whose composition and qualifications will ultimately be determined by Jinggoy, since he is the author of the Magna Carta for Journalists.
“Remember I am a friend of media,” he added, to reassure journalists that he had nothing but their best interest in his heart. Jinggoy is also a friend of Janet Lim Napoles, if I may also add. Let’s go to the pork barrel scam.
I cannot find any plausible explanation why Jinggoy thought washing his hands ala Pontius Pilate is the best way to address the question why hundreds of millions of his pork barrel did not go to intended beneficiaries.
“It is not up to the senators to determine whether an NGO is bogus or not. It is within the functions and the powers of the DA to determine if an NGO is bogus or not. Alangan naman na kami pa ang magsasabi na, “Oy, bogus ‘yan.” How will we know? Even if we endorse a certain NGO, we will have no idea whether it is bogus or not. It is done in good faith. If it endorses a certain project to a particular NGO, iniisip namin na accredited ng Department of Agriculture ‘yon. Ang office ko is not an implementing agency. The implementing agency here is the Department of Agriculture. Hindi naman kami nagpapa-implement. We are just here to determine the projects,” he said.
Every year, in the course of passing the national budget, Congress must review line by line not only the proposed budget but also how well the previous year’s budget was spent.
Senator, budget oversight is a duty, it is not a matter of caprice. You are duty-bound to care for our money as if it were your money and not to spend our money like it was your money.
You cannot claim to be too busy to comb the budget because oversight comes first, before all the other legislative work that you do like refiling a Magna Carta for Journalists bill. Seeing to it that the administration implements existing tax and spending measures or any new ones that you may pass is your number one job. Everything else follows. Think about it.
Sure implementing agencies are responsible for projects identified by legislators but is it too much to expect a legislator to at least scrutinize his own pork barrel, specially during budget deliberations?
Why are legislators so sensitive when asked about their pork barrel? I think the answer is obvious and that’s why I believe calling for the abolition of pork barrel misses the mark.
The problem is not the pork barrel, the problem is the pigs who gorge themselves on it. Get rid of the pigs.
Get rid of the pigs and pork barrel will cease to be a problem. Get rid of the pigs and pork barrel will function as it is supposed to, as a fund that addresses particular local needs that the national government missed.
Controversial LTO chief Virginia Torres was caught on video playing a slot machine at one of the local casinos.The video which can be accessed on YouTube is called “LTO chief Casino Queen”.
There is a 12 year old executive order banning government officials from going to casinos. So what was Virgie doing in a casino?
A more plausible explanation would be: