The blog that started it all has been re-blogged and Mr. Anonymous Commenter’s request that the revelations he ushered in be spread via social media has been granted. As a matter of fact, the main blog, “Janet Napoles’ Pork Barrel Scam: Theft from a Nation?” as well as the fiery comments are spreading like wildfire. Since this is social media, Janet Napoles and her family, their questionable activities and equally questionable wealth are trending in certain circles. Some bloggers who found the blog intriguing even chose the juiciest (and lengthiest) of the Anonymous comments and posted them.
The question is will anything come out of all the sharing and re-posting? Will spreading around the lengthy comments and replies of Mr. Anonymous assist the ongoing investigations and actually bring the guilty ones to justice? Social media enthusiasts are arguing that if netizens keep mum and just let traditional media do the job then the job won’t be done. That’s the other problem. The job of discovering illegal practices is not the mandate of the average Filipino citizen. We have authorities who were sworn to do that. Are they stronger than the corrupt system that’s been in place for decades?
The villainous scheme
Anonymous seems well versed on what Filipino politicians do with their pork barrel (aka the PDAF). Anonymous clarified that our senators and congressman are not given direct access to the funds and rightly so because they’re often quite hefty. There’s a process involving the Department of Budget and Management and a bidding organized by the DAR for example for projects meant to benefit the Filipino people. At the very center of this pork barrel scheme is an NGO owned by the notorious Napoles family which wins the bid. Guess what? It’s fixed.
The plot thickens
The funds are then released through Janet Napoles via the foundation and the politician under whose name the project will be listed gets 70%. This loot reportedly changes hands at parking lots and ridiculously huge amounts of money are packed in plastic bags or paper bags (for the eco-friendly, perhaps). The remaining 30% is Janet’s share of the bounty and apparently she also gets the money for bank officials and COA and DAR personnel involved in the scheme. The Napoles NGO is, for all intents and purposes a front for thievery of unimaginable proportions.
According to anonymous, this has been going on for more than a decade. That’s an awful lot of plastic bags and paper bags changing hands. That’s also a great sideline for those senators and congressmen who are supposed to serve the public. They do serve. They have more money to wage campaigns during election time and thus they serve for as long as they want.
Abolish the pork barrel. Help!
Mr. Anonymous calls for the abolishment of the pork barrel in order to “put a stop to this madness.” And he asked social media for help. “Local media is rubbish,” he declares and put his foot down that he’ll “never talk to the Philippine media.” Mr. Anonymous is also fully convinced that there’s nothing that the government can do even if local media publishes the information he has. There’s probably no need to have his revelations in print. Everyone with an Internet connection anywhere in the world can browse the list of congressmen that Mr. Anonymous posted in one of his replies along with their pocketed PDAF money.
Another subplot: The Interview
If it were the plot of a novel it would be intriguing indeed. The anonymous commenter even has a subplot involving family members of the Roxas clan – the one that veteran newscaster Korina Sanchez is married to. A television interview conducted by Sanchez on July 23 projected the Napoles family as victims. A business partner also testified and this person even flew in just to support the embattled family. The interviewees insisted that the huge fortune came from coal trade to India, Pakistan, and China. It took 20 years to amass the riches they now enjoy (and flaunt unabashedly), they pleaded.
The Napoles fortune according to Janet Napoles came from exporting coal. Unfortunately for her, there was a quick rebuttal from the person who actually registered the so-called Napoles business with the SEC: they know nothing about coal. Her name is Merlina P. Suñas, one of the former Napoles employees who come forward with affidavits, along with primary whistle-blower Benhur Luy.
Naturally, Mr. Anonymous has a better explanation. The Napoles family has ties with the Roxas family, thus explaining the bias apparently demonstrated by Sanchez during the interview. If only Mr. Anonymous was describing a fictional plot with all the juicy details that make for a top rating teleserye. But he claims that it’s all real and happening under our very noses. Who knew those plastic bags and paper bags being exchanged in parking lots were supposed to feed the hungry, clothe the needy, and house the homeless?
Who’s NOT involved?
It started with five senators and 23 members of the Lower House. Now there are 44 mayors involved and all of them tied to Janet Napoles. The National Bureau of Investigation is already digging, or so reports say. But what exactly is being done? The more paranoid would probably be thinking whether or not the powers-that-be in the NBI could be involved as well, but that is paranoid thinking. Who can blame them? The Napoles’ declaration (or was that an ubridled threat), “Hawak naming ang gobyerno” is making a lot of people paranoid right now.
What the government does best: arguing technicalities
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is investigating the ten billion scam that is now going head to head with House of Representative members who are not submitting their SALNs. Commissioner Kim Henares of the BIR said that lawmakers “do not want” to provide the BIR the necessary documents as requested. And those who remain defiant are allies of the administration, an administration that is arguing in favor of its allies based on the argument that the Executive and Legislative bodies of government have co-equal status and the BIR “cannot compel” the lawmakers to submit their SALNs for examination. It is one thing to placate one’s allies but citing technicalities in the middle of an urgent investigation is not at all encouraging.
Seven lawmakers have denounced the stand of President Aquino on the PDAF. Perhaps netizens must take another step and denounce all the delaying tactics and lack of definitive measures to get to the bottom of this pork barrel scam once and for all.