Jojo A. Robles

Just the beginning

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Can we all focus now on the enablers and the greedy allies? Can we get them haled to court and arrested, no matter how high their positions, as well?

 

Malacañang Palace and its embedded “assets” in Big Media have long asked the public to focus on getting three senators who just happen to belong to the opposition charged along with Janet Lim Napoles, something which finally happened last Friday. According to this propaganda strategy, any attempt to cast a wider net in the long-running pork barrel scandal is simply intended to spread the blame wider, with a view to eventually exonerating everyone by obfuscation and diversion.

It was a thoroughly stupid strategy, not in the least because, now that the cases against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla have been elevated to the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court, administration allies and officials - to say nothing of President Noynoy Aquino - and the other unindicted actors in the Napoles drama should now be held accountable by operation of law and logic. Yes, including those who have had sex tapes made about them.

For a while there, some people actually thought that Malacañang and its faux-independent prosecutor, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, would never get around to filing the requisite cases against the three senators because of the possibility of a political backlash from the supporters of these lawmakers. Besides, if the intent was really just to ruin them politically in forthcoming elections, then that objective has largely been achieved already without anyone ever being threatened with actual lawsuits or time in jail.

But Aquino and his Ombudsman apparently decided that they had to follow through on the cases or be accused of being a party to a farce that would not get Napoles or any of her “clients” behind bars as part of a vast conspiracy of government against its people. Besides, if no one was really charged, Aquino would no longer be able to do any bragging in his upcoming State of the Nation Address about economic growth that is seriously losing steam, projects that no one in this administration will ever get done and the general malaise that is sinking most Filipinos in a cesspool of hopelessness and want.

(Palace spokesmen have heatedly denied that the three senators were thrown under the bus because Aquino had to have something to crow about in his speech. But if Aquino doesn’t go on about working to “end corruption” by bringing Napoles and the others to court, then his will be a very, very short - or very imaginative - address at the Batasan.)

Yes, Napoles, three senators and their subordinates have been charged. But if Malacañang thinks that that’s the end of that - or that it has defused incipient protest actions denouncing its own involvement with Ma’am Jenny - then there are more idiots in the palace than anyone previously thought.

* * *

Ever since Napoles’ billion-peso cottage industry was brought to light - with absolutely no help from Aquino, his minions and his Congress allies - it was clear that the scam was bipartisan. It was also immediately obvious that the racket would not have gone on as long as it had (bridging the supposedly “evil” Arroyo administration and the current Government of the Straight Path) if only Congress was involved.

Napoles needed her enablers in the Executive, those who wanted her to continue doing business because they needed corrupt lawmakers of every political affiliation to get things done, whether it was removing a chief justice of the Supreme Court or passing controversial legislation. And then there were those officials who were already taking money in the form of campaign contributions from Napoles - again, not just lawmakers but representatives of Aquino himself.

Given the pervasiveness of Napoles’ scam, Aquino is playing a dangerous game if he thinks that the filing of charges in court against Napoles and the three senators is going to pacify a public that has grown tired of both the hypocrisy and the thievery. If Aquino figures that the arrest and jailing of the three senators - while Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Senate President Franklin Drilon and his allies in both Houses get off scot-free - will end the controversy, then he may have made a very serious miscalculation.

Believing that only three senators need to get punished for being clients of Napoles is like saying that only these three (and no congressmen at all) were needed to impeach and then convict Chief Justice Renato Corona. It’s like saying that Malacañang only liberally gave pork to its allies who belong to the aptly-named Liberal Party.

And yet, Aquino and his propagandists continue to believe that they can sell the stupid notion that nobody else needs to be pursued for helping Napoles help herself to billions in taxpayers’ funds. But just like Malacañang’s declared belief that having 11 members of the Abad family working in the administration doesn’t constitute nepotism, no one outside the palace is buying that.

 

The truth is, the cases of Napoles and the three senators are now up to the anti-graft court to decide—which it will, eventually, without help from anyone. The other other truth is, this process should not be the end of the pork barrel story, but merely the beginning of the end.

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