Davao City— Hours after Pres. Aquino announced a P10-million reward, Malacañang said Janet Napoles, who was involved in the 10-billion pork barrel scam, surrendered at 9:37pm.
In its website, the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson also said, “(T)he President turned her over to the custody of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Philippine National Police Director-General Alan Purisima for processing and booking.”
“Napoles is wanted on charges of serious illegal detention arising from the alleged kidnapping of Benhur Luy.”
Earlier, critics lashed at Pres. Aquino’s P10 million bounty for Napoles, with one kidding that Napoles offered 50 million pesos so she won’t be caught.
Ateneo de Davao Professor Daphne Padilla asked why government is making Napoles take all the blame. “Surely she is to blame, but she didn’t do it all by herself,” she said.
The reward money on Napoles was like “the wild, wild west,” she said.
“Korapsyon and abuse of power ang issue dito at manganganak yan (Corruption and abuse of power are the issues here, and it will still continue),” Padilla remarked.
Gabriela Woman Partylist Representative Luzmvinda Ilagan also shared this view, saying no significant changes could be accomplished once Napoles is arrested and investigated.
“Hindi pa rin naman titigil ang pagkuha ng mga SOP, ng mga kickback, pagbibigay pabor sa mga kontratista at pag-overprice ng mga proyekto kapag nahuli si Napoles (This will not stop the SOP, of taking in kickback, favoring contractors and overpricing projects even with Napoles’ capture), will not even bring the Filipino people an inch closer towards putting an end to corruption,” said Ilagan.
Gabriela and other members of the Makabayan Bloc have announced that they will let go of their PDAF to signify their stand on abolishing the pork barrel.
But Ilagan’s co-representative in Gabriela, Emmi de Jesus, is wary with budget secretary Butch Abad’s announcement that the P25.2 billion PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) stays in the proposed 2.26 trillion budget for 2014, thereby saying Congress has to let this pass without scrutiny.
De Jesus said these actions show that the Aquino administration is “in panic mode and wants the House to rush through the budget.”
Dr. Jack Estuart, one of the participants of the Million People March in Davao, believed that Aquino would dangle the PDAF to lawmakers to push support for his legislative agenda.
“There are just so many in P-Noy’s agenda that requires congress approval – mining, constitutional amendments, Private-Public Partnership, the Bangsamoro peace deal, VFA, and more. PDAF will assure congress support,” Estuart pointed out.
De Jesus made an appeal to the people who joined Monday’s rally to transform from “Million People Marchers to become Million People Watchers” to monitor the Congress’ deliberation of the budget.
“We need your voices to prevent the Palace from ramming through its annual modus operandi of rendering Congress a rubber stamp parliament,” she added.
“Filipinos all over the country and the world showed through their protest that changing the name of PDAF is not enough,” De Jesus said.
De Jesus said the people are also aware of Aquino’s bigger pork barrel, which is a lump-sum fund around Php 1.5 trillion.
This includes the Php 12.4 billion Presidential Social Fund (PSF) sourced through Pagcor earnings, the Php 132-billion Malampaya fund, intelligence funds, Conditional Cash Transfers and other funds for infrastructure and LGU support.
Malacañang defended the funds saying this is a trust fund, and not considered pork.
Rep. Ilagan said “the challenge posed upon Aquino, is to abolish the pork barrel in all its forms including the presidential lump sum and discretionary funds along with the development assistance fund and lump sum funds of congressional officials and line agencies,”
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Rep Neri Colmenares questioned the inclusion of the Commission on Audit (COA) as one of the agencies in the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAGCC) tasked to look into the pork barrel scam together with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Ombudsman.
“While the COA has the official expertise and capacity to make sense of the expenditures and moneys of the government, it has no prosecutorial powers unlike the DOJ and the Ombudsman. Rather, COA should act as the complainant who will testify on its findings of anomalies and graft and corruption,” Colmenares suggested.
He said lawmakers who are being investigated can challenge the agency’s resolution “and if they get a favorable decision, (it) would therefore render the efforts of the government without force and effect.”
Colmenares also pointed out that the COA should also be investigated because it failed to account Napoles’ P10 billion scam involving 18 House representatives and five senators.
“COA itself should be included in those agencies to be investigated considering that it would be impossible for the scammers and grafters to execute their evil ends without the complicity of those who will audit them eventually. The pork barrel scam has been ongoing for 10 years and it would be impossible to pull off without accomplices from COA,” the lawmaker said.
Ateneo’s Padilla said that the inter-agency may have good intentions, “but I want the FOI (Freedom of Information bill passed) so that i will be assured that there will be no whitewash,” she pointed out. (davaotoday.com)Janet Lim Napoles, pdaf, pork barrel