MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 14 May) – The Senate blue ribbon committee has finally made public the list of incumbent and former lawmakers who were supposedly involved in the multi-billion pesos pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by Janet Lim-Napoles. Media has feasted on the list made by Napoles herself and given to former senator Panfilo Lacson before finding its way to the chamber.
Now you have it, the list. So what now? One need not be a lawyer to know that a mere list could not stand as evidence especially in cases where documents draw the line between innocence and guilt. The list may contain names of individuals who may or may not be involved in the scam. But in the absence of documents that can pinpoint liability the list means nothing.
The question remains though: Did Napoles voluntarily make that list as a candid recollection of officials she had dealt with? If so, can she support it with sufficient evidence that will at least warrant prosecution?
If Napoles could not present ample evidence, that would create suspicions her coming out with the list has motives other than a desire to tell all that she knows about the PDAF controversy. Or could it be that she really has something up her sleeve but would rather use it as legal bargaining chip?Note that she wanted to become a state’s witness in the cases involving the anomalous use of PDAF.
But, for whatever it’s worth the brains behind this latest Napoles caper knew their craft. For one, the choice of Lacson as the messenger looks perfect. After all, the former senator’s biggest credential as public official was his having declined to use [his] PDAF. He should explain though why he said Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s name was on the list but was not in the one he submitted to the Senate blue ribbon committee.
Moreover, Lacson’s post as rehabilitation czar for Yolanda-stricken areas has not deterred him from “exposing” the list which also contains the names of lawmakers allied with the administration. These include Senators Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero, Koko Pimentel and Allan Peter Cayetano.
I’d bet my last penny though that President Aquino III would not mind seeing these senators dragged into the controversy. Legarda and Cayetano were on the other side of the fence during the 2010 presidential elections. Escudero? He wreaked havoc from within the Liberal Party camp by rooting for an Aquino-Binay tandem in the homestretch of the campaign leaving Mar Roxas dumbfounded.
So whose brainchild is the list if it isn’t Napoles’ handiwork? The possibilities are as endless as the possible kinds of list that would catch public imagination. Granting Napoles has a smoking gun, the list could be meant to force government into concessions favorable to her and her co-accused.
Then there’s the political element too. You’re right, I’m referring to the 2016 general elections.
At this stage, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who has been charged at the Sandiganbayan along with Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon “Bong” Revilla, can kiss his dream for the vice presidency goodbye. It remains to be seen how the Napoles list would affect the chances of Legarda, Cayetano and Escudero.
Maybe, just maybe, this is what the Napoles list wishes to achieve – to shorten the list of pretenders to the presidency and vice presidency. Make your own guess.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)