POSTSCRIPT / June 1, 2014 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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‘Among Ed’ a better choice for PCSO chair

SOCIAL ACTION: Now it is former Pampanga Gov. Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio being mentioned as likely successor of Margie Juico, resigned chair of the cash-rich Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

My opinion will not matter, but I prefer Among Ed, 60, to former Cavite Gov. Erineo “Ayong” Maliksi, 76, whose rumored taking over the PCSO has been greeted in social media as akin to giving Dracula the key to the blood bank.

His priestly vocation and decades of immersion in social action make Panlilio a perfect choice as general manager of the charity-oriented PCSO. He could be expected to hew to President Noynoy Aquino’s tuwid na daan (straight path).

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A BRIDGE: We asked Among Ed last Friday in a forum in Angeles City about rumors of his being assigned to the PCSO but he merely smiled, neither confirming nor denying them. I took his smile to mean that the post has been offered to him.

At the moment, however, he is engrossed with the social amelioration projects of the Talete king Panyulung Kapampangan Foundation Inc. that he established long before politics sidetracked him in 2007. (My translation of that TPKI tongue-twister is “Bridge to Advancement”.)

Assisting him explain TPKI’s activities was engineer Nolasco M. Pasion, who shares the priest’s passion for helping the needy help themselves. Based on the Grameen Bank approach, TPKI has released some P3.7 billion in loans in the past 27 years to small entrepreneurs in Central Luzon.

Before running for governor in 2007, Panlilio was for 15 years the director of the Social Action Center of Pampanga (SACOP), which assisted communities ravaged by Mt. Pinatubo lahar.

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WAR CHEST: With the 2016 elections just around the corner, however, the chance of Among Ed’s being allowed to control a cash cow like PCSO is slimmer than the likelihood of Budget Secretary Butch Abad resigning to spare the President the anguish of asking him to resign.

Any hint that an anti-corruption figure would be installed at the PCSO is expected to alarm Liberal Party operators itching to capture PCSO’s war chest. They have not missed the juicy fact that when Juico quit, she left a tempting P16 billion intact.

In addition to party objections, there will also be resistance from gambling lords who have struck a modus vivendi with the Palace. They cannot live with Panlilio in the PCSO, which has launched some numbers games designed to kill illegal grassroots gambling such as jueteng.

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RODRIGUEZ DENIAL: Pampanga Rep. Oca Rodriguez of the third district was also a guest, together with Panlilio, at the forum of the Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI) held at the Café Juan of the Holy Angel University in Angeles.

Rodriguez denied that he ever received any kickback from pork barrel queen Janet Lim Napoles. His name appeared in the latest edition of the list of her supposed beneficiaries.

He said the best way out of the confusion and the wild smear game is for the justice department and the Ombudsman to speed up their investigation and ferret out the crooks.

His situation is doubly hurting, because he heads the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, the counterpart of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee looking into the (pork) barrel.

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DAGDAG-BAWAS: Napoles’ latest affidavit identified 20 senators, 100 congressmen, and three trusted men of the President — Secretary Abad, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Tesda secretary-general Joel Villanueva – as having received commissions from her.

Rodriguez noted that while Napoles added new names, she deleted some politicians who were in the 2007-2009 special reports of the Commission on Audit as having diverted their pork allocations to bogus Non-Government Organizations.

He wondered aloud if this was related to statements of a Napoles lawyer that some persons had visited her (and offered “million-peso payments”) asking her to remove their names from the extended affidavit then being prepared.

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SIMPLY ADDED: Rodriguez pointed out that in his case, while he was named in the affidavit, there were no details such as the name of an agent, date of transaction(s), etc., unlike in the case of others.

“My name was just added at the tailend,” he said, adding that he was never mentioned in the digital files of whistleblower Benhur Luy.

He said he would not resign or go on leave, but would continue to perform his job as a lawmaker and chair of the House “blue ribbon” body. “But if my committee were (forced) to investigate this case, I would have no option but to inhibit myself out of delicadeza,” he said.

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BIG SHOTS MISSING: A growing impression is that the manufacturing of various lists is calculated to confuse people to the point that they would doubt even a correct and complete list drawn up by Napoles, the only person with direct personal knowledge of her transactions.

(Luy is only a secondary source because he just recorded what Napoles told him. Much of his statement is hearsay. Luy’s hard disk itself can be, and has been, tampered with.)

Until certain central suspects appear on a final Napolist, any listing is not likely to be believed by a public grown cynical. Any list – whether based on a hard disk or a red book, or a compilation plucked from memory — will not be believed if the names of certain Big Shots are missing.

Since last month, curiously, President Aquino has been casting doubts IN ADVANCE on the credibility of Napoles. Is he or somebody close to him afraid that in the final stage she might confess the whole truth despite the VIP treatment she has been given since her surrender?

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 1, 2014)

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