Daily dose

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

Ever since Benhur Luy blew the whistle on the now infamous “pork barrel scam” where he points out Janet Napoles as the brains behind the funneling of government funds, particularly the PDAF to non-existent or bogus NGOs to the tune of P10 billion, we have had a daily dose of information regarding the scam. More and more personalities - officials, mayors, lawmakers - have been mentioned that have willingly or unwillingly taken part in the scam. Details of the process how officials can request for funds to get their respective projects off the ground have been revealed.

The more recent detail is the mentioning of 44 mayors who asked for funds from the Department of Agriculture (DA) in the amount of P5 million or less. All 44 request letters were allegedly received by a fashion designer, who in turn handed them over to the office of Janet Napoles, not the DA. The amount of five million was intended, as anything under that amount would not require another step for scrutiny and approval. This shows that Janet Napoles was well versed on the way government disburses its money. This also lends credence to Janet Napoles' threat on Benhur Luy, that “they have a hold on government.” Actually, it sounds more threatening in the vernacular.

Which is why one by one, the mayors mentioned in the revelation are coming out either denying they asked for funds, saying their signatures were forged despite a go-between fashion designer who picked up the letters one by one, professing good faith when they asked for funds, or washing their hands entirely of the scam. I must say that in order for a scam this big to succeed, the players have to be informed one way or another.

With our daily dose of information regarding the “pork barrel scam”, it seems the formal investigation into it hasn't even started yet. Is it because of the personalities involved, willingly or not? Is it because there is more to be revealed? Is it because it is purposely being stalled by those seemingly deep into it? The BIR has reported that SALNs have been scarce ever since the scam broke out. Or is it because the government does not want to telegraph its punches and is already conducting a quiet investigation on the matter? I really hope so.

As for all those denying this and that, they should become willing witnesses, testifying against the alleged brains of it all, right? That's a lot of witnesses. The threat of “hawak namin ang gobyerno” uttered by Napoles to Luy is nothing to sneer at. We have seen how many officials are slowly being revealed by whistleblowers and participants in the scam. Like I said, for something this big to succeed, there must be some kind of involvement by the officials and all. I sincerely hope that a formal investigation gets under way under this administration. But on the down side, so many other scams smaller than this one are being investigated and prosecuted, but until now, no conviction has been made. What more the “pork barrel scam”?

Will this scam be prosecuted at all?

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