EVER since a warrant was released by the Department of Justice for the arrest of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and her brother Reynaldo Lim, social media has been inundated with feedback by netizens.
Most were angry and appalled that Napoles was able to escape the clutches of justice so quickly.
The Dept. of Justice, along with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are still searching for Napoles and her sibling, as of press time.
A report from Inquirer.net revealed that Napoles owns 28 houses all over the country and 30 vehicles, which could keep her and her sibling “mobile” and  “traveling to and from the National Capital Region,” according to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.
De Lima has deemed Napoles’ flight “as an admission of guilt” and has called on the public to “make a citizen’s arrest” on Napoles.
The justice secretary stated that Napoles’ warrant of arrest also serves as a hold departure order, barring Napoles and her brother from leaving the country.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeals has issued a freeze order on Napoles’ assets, preventing her and her relatives from having access “to part or all of her wealth,” including her family’s bank accounts.
“The order also covered the bank accounts of Benhur Luy, her former employee who had squealed on her alleged role in the P10-billion pork barrel scam,” Philstar.com reported.
Yet, while authorities are engaged in this tricky manhunt for Napoles (who has been declared as a “high profile fugitive”), apparently there are still bigger fish to fry.
Philstar.com reported that at least 12 senators and around 180 congressmen (through the Department of Budget and Management or DBM) “have funneled P6.156 billion in pork barrel funds to 82 questionable non-government organizations (NGOs) from 2007 to 2009.”
On August 16, Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan revealed the results of a two-year special audit. According to the report, 10 of the questionable NGOs were linked to Napoles, while six of them were linked to “sponsoring lawmakers through relatives,” said Philstar.com.
According to Tan, there were only 12 senators involved, but the 135-page COA report makes mention of 15.
“From 2007 to 2009, 74 lawmakers exceeded their pork barrel allocations by hundreds of millions. Each senator gets P200 million a year in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Congressmen were found to have used their pork barrel for projects outside their legislative districts. COA auditors uncovered grossly deficient projects, dubious beneficiaries and the use of questionable receipts,” Philstar.com further reported.
Tan refused to name names, but based on the special audit report, the 15 senators “linked to the misuse of public funds or at least funded hard or soft projects that ended up being misused” include former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Sen. Jinggoy Estrada; Sen. Bong Revilla; Sen. Gregorio Honasan; Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano; Sen. Lito Lapid; former Sen. Edgardo Angara; former Sen. Rodolfo Biazon; former Sen. Manuel Villar; former Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr.; former Sen. Francisco Pangilinan; former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr.; former Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri and former Sen. Juan Flavier.
In an earlier report from Rappler.com, Sec. De Lima assured the public that the DOJ “will be filing graft charges against lawmakers involved in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam.”
De Lima said that the DOJ will act accordingly “for as long as there’s evidence, ‘both testimonial and documentary,’ to indict lawmakers,” and that “the NBI does not engage itself in any partisan concern or its investigation is not affected or damaged by any partisan or political color.”
“Maybe later, when we start filing charges, you would know or you would see it (political affiliation) is not at all a benchmark. The political color being the subject of the investigation does not matter,” De Lima added.
Yet, based on what has been unraveled so far, that task seems easier said than done.
It is not surprising to find a lot of angered netizens, who surmise that Napoles was able to evade arrest because it is a part of a bigger conspiracy.
Some opined that the pork barrel (aka PDAF) should be abolished altogether, since it is robbing taxpayers of their hard-earned money — only to be pocketed by unscrupulous individuals for their own selfish purposes.
Would abolishing the pork barrel be the solution to the herculean task of curbing corruption?
Pres. Aquino seems to disagree, according to presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.
“On calls for the abolition and then for the phase out, when I had the occasion to speak to the President about it, and what he said was the work of the national government, really, is to look at the macro concerns. The local (governments) are micro concerns,” said Valte in a press briefing on August 2.
According to Valte, the president narrated some instances when he was still a congressman in Tarlac where he was able to finance a road project through the PDAF allotted him.
“So he said, it is really the share of the constituents in the budget, the PDAF. So technically, the work of a legislator is to bring to the attention of the national government the concerns that could not be noticed on the national level, but are needed by a district or town or a municipality,” Valte further said.
In Ronald U. Mendoza’s column in Thought Leaders (Rappler.com), he says that the PDAF “looks good,” but is actually “deadly,” and demonstrates “how this ‘dark meat’ is proving quite unhealthy for our democracy.”
“PDAF can be used by legislators to increase the likelihood of their re-election or the election of their relatives and allies. The clientelistic nature of local Filipino politics and the propensity of politicians to label public goods with their names and/or their likenesses (”Epal”) perpetuates how many Filipinos view public goods—as the bequests of local officials rather than the product of collective action by the country’s citizens.”
“Moreover, the ease by which political capital can be bequeathed to relatives through name recall means that these projects can be used to consolidate and expand the power of dynastic clans. A simple calculus of public resources controlled by five prominent political clans in the country can help paint the picture of part of the economic power these clans have amassed,” Mendoza wrote.
Will we continue to allow these corrupt individuals to feast on this “dark meat?”  Or should we, as citizens and taxpayers, act together and make our collective voices heard, to ensure that those who partook of “the pork” face the consequences of their actions?
Whether it’s dark meat or dead meat, the decision to either keep or abolish the pork barrel should be up to the people.

1 Comment
  1. Do we really need to wait for a Na-POLICE and now Na-NBI na before we scrap, phase out and abolish this PDAF aka Pork Barrel? PDAF is the biggest and the most evil source of corruption in the Philippines and I would bravely say, since time immemorial. It is the most considered, if not the main, apparent and obvious reason and a very effective magnet which tempts and drags politicians to enter politics in our agonizing country. Phase out this evil source of temptation and you can find once more the most honest and sincere public servants in congress. Then, we can find again politicians elected in congress based on integrity and quality with the least or nothing expenditure to apprize voters on how they qualify. That’s why its a byword now in the country that politics is the best business for satanic-minded entrepreneurs. On the other hand,yes, maintain the pork barrel if all the members of congress has the sanity, honesty, integrity and sincerity as that of President Noynoy Aquino. May God bless the Philippines with another President Noynoy Aquino after him.

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