So much has happened since the pork barrel scam came to light. The main player, Janet Lim Napoles has been incarcerated for weeks. A number of key players have also been named, including The Big 3 (Sen. Bong Revilla, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile). Many of those named were quick to deny the charges and are now finding ways to implicate the other perpetrators.
Cherry Picking Opposition Senators
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada gave a privilege speech on September 25 at the Senate, bemoaning what he sees as cherry picking by the administration against the opposition where he belongs. Such a politically motivated move, he cries, is done to ruin their good names even when other senators were also abusing their own PDAFs.
Estrada calls his privilege speech as the “The Untold PDAF Story That the People Should Know”. He blames not just the administration but also the media for capitalizing on the misfortune of him and fellow opposition senators accused of corruption. He feels that the 3 of them (him, Enrile, and Revilla) were singled out. It was purportedly a trial by publicity, making them evil and corrupt in the eyes of the Filipino people.
He added that when he inhibited himself from the investigations done by the Blue Ribbon Committee, it was because he was advised by his lawyers to do so. He lamented that his own words were twisted so that he appears guilty even when he was just trying to do what he thinks was right. Estrada continued to pour his sentiments against other senators who are already labeling him as guilty even before the trial has begun.
Additional Names for Further Investigation
Not content with merely lamenting his sorrowful predicament, he then proceeded to name more senators and politicians who also misused their PDAFs. There was an insinuation that the billion-peso Napoles scam was just the tip of the iceberg – that there are still billions of other misused funds that should be investigated as well.
He mentioned Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, and Manny Villar as those named in the COA Report for questionable use of funds. He also included Congressman and Majority Leader Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales, Jr. who he assumes to have received at least 420 million pesos. Estrada added that the COA report indicated that there were a number of possible ghost projects and transactions involving Gonzales. Party-List Representative Florencio Noel, known to be a partner of Gonzales, was also included.
Alleged COA Incompetency
Estrada did not stop with his fellow politicians but included COA Chair Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan. He lamented how Pulido-Tan released the partial COA Special Audit report to the media when it is explicitly mandated in part in COA AUDIT RESOLUTION NO. 97-006 that “NO COA audit report of whatever nature shall be released to any person until a copy of said report has been officially transmitted to and received by the head of the government agency being audited.”
He blames the COA for not doing its job properly, always presenting incomplete reports when they should be the ones closely monitoring the PDAF and other government funds. They are also cherry picking the government officials to investigate – with him, Revilla, and Enrile placed in close scrutiny while the others got away with their own use of their PDAF. He added more names of people who weren’t thoroughly investigated, including Congresswoman Henedina Abad, Congressman Niel Tupas, Congressman Isidro Ungab, Senator Allan Peter Cayetano, Former Senator Mar Roxas, and Senator Trillanes.
The Big 3 are Mere “Victims”
Selective reporting, as he calls it, ensures that only him, Enrile, and Revilla were strongly implicated in the PDAF irregularities. Thus, no matter if they are innocent and only Napoles is to be blamed, the people and even colleagues in the senate already see them as guilty. Estrada claims that they are but victims of a flawed system.
The people are tired of hearing excuses from those involved in the PDAF scam – that may be because of the “trial by publicity” that Estrada is talking about or because people are prone to only half believe what a politician is saying. The real question is whether these corrupt people could really be punished for their actions and pay for their crimes. Would that mean a major overhaul in the senate and congress considering that all of them, in one way or another, could be accused (and maybe proven) to have misused their public funds for their own gain? At the rate that justice is going in our country, it would probably take a couple of decades before we know the answer.