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Opinion

Joel Villanueva victim of ‘selective injustice’

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

He’s the ideal scapegoat — the supposed proof that the admin is not singling out political foes in the PDAF indictments.

We’ve seen them loot the Executive: Budget Sec. Abad devised the P178-billion presidential pork barrel DAP. Transport Sec. Abaya signed the vehicle plate and train maintenance scams. Agriculture Sec. Alcala’s men profiteered from smuggled rice and onion. You’d think they, as congressmen before, didn’t raid the congressional pork PDAF too?

That’s what they’d make us believe. Their Liberal Party admin is under fire for selective justice against only Opposition lawmakers in the P10-billion PDAF plunder. It needs to show it’s not singling out foes of President Noy. What better way to do it than by implicating one of P-Noy’s closest appointees, Sec. Joel Villanueva of TESDA?

Joel is the ideal scapegoat. Predictably as a Reborn Christian, he’d rather pray than fight back. Not an LP, he’s in the way of jealous party sycophants, as P-Noy often admiringly praises his work, in SONAs and town hall meets. With Joel fallen from grace, the LP would have room to spare in its 2016 senatorial ticket, for the party that would put up a VP running mate. Best of all, it would live down the “singling out” tag. When Joel was put in the third batch of pork indictees -- still all Opposition except him – a Malacañang spokesman gleefully claimed: “See, we’re not selective with justice!”

Yet it’s selective injustice. Perplexing is the NBI’s picking on Joel now. In 2013 at the height of the pork exposés, the agency had declared bogus all 21 documents linking him to kickback fixer Janet Lim Napoles. Joel’s signature was forged, Questioned Documents Lab chief Carolyn Pitoy and Deputy for Forensics Edward Villarta swore then.

Other “evidence” do not tally with Congress records. Inexistent are two state-salaried staffers who supposedly aided Joel, in a Compostela district office he never had. He’s not a district congressman but from the party-list CIBAC (Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption). Neither Napoles nor PDAF scam whistleblower Benhur Luy mention Joel in testimonies.

Here’s more. Joel allegedly pocketed P10 million PDAF in 2006. Yet, being in the Opposition then, he got not a single centavo from the Arroyo tenure. An ex-public works secretary admits to seeing a separate fabricated request, in unsuspecting Joel’s name, for cash doles in Central Luzon. In the PDAF scam, the counterfeiters clearly were confused. The faked stationery of Joel states not his CIBAC but “Buhay Party List.” That party’s founder is famous El Shaddai Catholic charismatic Bro. Mike Velarde; Joel is the son of equally famed Jesus Is Lord evangelist Bro. Eddie Villanueva.

Justice Sec. Leila de Lima, as NBI overseer, would be hard-pressed to prosecute Joel on flimflam. The LP is inviting de Lima to its senatorial lineup. Joel can only sigh: “Absurd is the jealousy within the admin!” His allies blame it all on the faction of LP president-on-leave Mar Roxas, recently anointed by P-Noy as preferred successor. Joel hesitates to name names. Still it must be asked: why hasn’t de Lima charged Abad or Alcala, both long implicated by Napoles and Luy?

Abaya as LP acting president reportedly is telling Joel to “just resign quietly.” Abad, trying to assuage Joel, assures that “[Interior Sec.] Mar does not undermine” fellow-Cabinet members. Joel nods, but friends advise him to ask VP Jojo Binay or ex-transport chief Ping de Jesus.

* * *

Another victim of admin intramurals is the APO Production Unit. Pro-admin party-list reps are blaming the high-security printing agency for the delayed processing of some 70,000 new passports. Ironically, though, APO is not the official maker of passports. It is still negotiating with the Dept. of Foreign Affairs to take over the specialized work. The contract, though expired last Jan., is presently with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The BSP subcontracts it to a private printer. Frequent breakdowns in that firm’s printing plant is the reason for the backlog in passport issuances.

Under the General Appropriations Act, all state printing jobs must be done by Government Accredited Printers. Such agencies include the National Printing Office, BSP, and APO. With a newly built hi-tech plant in Lipa-Malvar Economic Zone, only APO is capable of high-security tasks. Among its present clients are the BIR, which requires barcoded, tamper-proof tax stamps on each cigarette pack and liquor bottle. Last month the APO demonstrated to P-Noy its capability to produce a passport in less than 10 minutes.

The transfer of passport printing from the BSP’s private jobber to the APO would cut in half the unit cost, from the present P950. There’s a hitch, though. Certain bureaucrats would lose under-the-table incomes. So requests from the DFA for faster paperwork are falling on deaf ears. The Dept. of Budget and Management is foot-dragging on the release of the all-important Multi-Year Obligational Authority, for projects exceeding 12 months. The Government Procurement Policy Board is so slow to issue the requisite clearances for the work transfer to the APO.

Perhaps Press Sec. Herminio Coloma, to whose office the APO reports, must confront admin delayers – again from the LP.

* * *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459, or The STAR website http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA

E-mail: [email protected]

ABAD

ABAYA

ACIRC

AGRICULTURE SEC

ALCALA

APO

ATILDE

BANGKO SENTRAL

JOEL

P-NOY

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