For weeks now, the Pork Barrel Scam has created anger and confusion in the minds of people across the Philippines. Ordinary Filipino citizens often have only a few hundred pesos to their name, yet this scam involves misuse of mind-boggling billions of pesos allegedly manipulated by Janet Lim Napoles, her cohorts, and her family. It is almost beyond comprehension, yet the primary whistle-blower, Benhur Luy appears quite credible, and whatever statement he makes during the inquiries, may be acceptable to further the case.
An All-Star Cast
Who are the major players in the pork barrel scam? Luy was adamant that he won’t be naming names but the code names given created a new buzz among netizens, with people putting two and two together to pinpoint the identity of these politicians.
Names like “Tanda”, “Sexy”, and “Gwapo” might look too vague but careful research plus additional statements from other whistleblowers immediately uncovered their identities. The top players were named: Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr as “Gwapo”, Sen Juan Ponce Enrile as “Tanda”, and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada as “Sexy”. The last one was almost too easy to deduce when Luy was asked about why the person was called “Sexy”. Luy admitted that the person used to be fat but has considerably slimmed down, earning the moniker.
It appears as though that Revilla is the top gun, with Napoles NGOs allegedly receiving as much as P413.29 million plus another P20 million to Napoles NGOs in 2 towns. However, Revilla was one of the quickest to deny any involvement with Napoles, crying out foul, and insisting that his signatures were faked. His wife’s statement (in part: “basta wag lang manghingi ang mga tao sa amin”) certainly made him look guiltier even if she later said that the statement was taken out of context. Also, his political adviser, Richard Cambe, is said to be directly involved in the scam as well.
During the course of the investigation, Luy did admit to being an expert in faking signatures but insisted that the work he did with the lawmakers had the stamp of approval from Napoles. Also, it was hard to believe that millions of pesos changed hands using forged signatures. Surely, someone would have noticed the discrepancies – or, as most people want to think, almost all transactions were real, with no forgery involved.
Enrile allegedly funneled P332.7 million to Napoles NGOs plus an additional P10 million to a Napoles NGO in one town. Aside from that, his former chief of staff is also linked in the scam, owing to the fact that she signed checks in his behalf. Also, his deputy chief of staff, Jose Antonio Evangelista, was named by whistleblowers as among the main contacts between Napoles and Enrile. Having an extra P100-million pork as senate president certainly has its advantages, although he also denied being involved in the scam and says that he was just doing his job to his constituency – namely, all Filipinos.
P191.58 million was allegedly given to Napoles NGOs plus an additional P63 million to Napoles NGOs in four towns by the office of Jinggoy Estrada. He admitted to slimming down because of bariatric surgery but denies any involvement with Luy or Napoles. His dad, former President Erap Estrada also denies knowing Napoles or her daughter Jeane. Also, Ruby Tuason (former social secretary of Erap) and Pauline Labayan (deputy chief of staff of Jinggoy) were also tagged as major contacts between the offices and Napoles.
Other players include Agusan del Sur Representative Rodolfo Plaza, Masbate Representative Rizalina Seachon-Lanete, Benguet Representative Samuel Dangwa, Party List Representative Edgar Valdez, and Surigao del Sur Representative Prospero Pichay.
So, who took the cookie from the cookie jar?
Of course, as expected, all the politicians linked to the scam were quick to deny any involvement. There were cries of signatures being forced if ever there was a hint that documentary evidence could “prove” their involvement. They were also adamant that they do not know the Napoleses even with pictures circulating of them with the couple or their daughters (often with daughter Jeane) creating a buzz on the web.
Now, who are we supposed to believe? Well, we could always take the side of Luy – after all, politicians are known for being corrupt. Also, Luy’s statements have always appeared to be credible. The question of whether these key players would ever be indicted for their acts hangs in the air even when Napoles has surrendered. We could only hope that the guilty people will pay for their crimes.