POSTSCRIPT / June 3, 2014 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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Which is worse: To be on Napoles or Luy list?

PREFERRED LIST: Yesterday, I asked a friend whose name had been added to the latest list of lawmakers who allegedly had transactions with pork barrel queen Janet Lim Napoles: Which is worse — being on the Napoles list or on the Benhur Luy list?

He retorted: I should not be on either list. I never had any dealings with Napoles nor received money from her. In fact, I’ve never met or talked to her.

Still I pressed: But if you cannot prevent their putting your name on either list, which list will you prefer?

He thought for a while, poor him, then replied: Napoles list.

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RELIABLE PLAYER: Whether guilty or innocent, if I were a senator or a congressman being dragged into the pork scam, I would also prefer to be on the Napolist.

My reason is that with President Noynoy Aquino himself leading the campaign to destroy Napoles, her reputation and credibility will be in tatters before her testimony lands on the desk of the Ombudsman.

The Aquino administration gives me the impression that it looks upon Luy as a more reliable player in the prosecution of targeted opponents, with Napoles being merely corroborating.

For a while Napoles also looked like a viable state witness, but she spoiled it by asking for too much concessions that could make the government look ridiculous. She was parlaying her trove of touchy secrets for total immunity for herself and her children.

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VIP TREATMENT: Just how much does Napoles, a 50-year-old never-say-die businesswoman, knows – and how far would she go in dragging Malacañang officials into the mud? Many people are ready to believe that she might just implicate President Aquino himself.

One hint of that risk is her pointing to Budget Secretary Butch Abad, someone quite close to the President, as having mentored her on the tricks of diverting pork-type public funds to private pockets.

It did not help Malacañang any that President Aquino himself took time off in the middle of the night on Aug. 28 last year to receive Napoles in the Palace, and then escort her to Camp Crame for processing her surrender.

The overzealous VIP treatment triggered speculation that the President was being careful not to irritate Napoles to the point that she might suddenly decide to disclose too much of what she knows.

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COMPROMISED CREDIBILITY: Note that only Napoles has direct personal knowledge of her pork barrel transactions. She is the repository of billions of secrets that could damn officials who, over the years, had presumed that their porky corrupt ways were hidden from public view.

With Napoles as primary source, her cousin Luy falls back to being only secondary. The employee merely recorded what Ma’am Jenny told him. What he had encoded or recorded in his computer hard disk requires validation.

Not only is much of Luy’s information secondary and occasionally hearsay. Some of it has been found to have been tampered with. The hard disk has passed through several hands, some of which may not be clean – thereby opening its contents to challenge.

Luy’s value as a witness may have been compromised also by his voluntary confession that he and his co-workers in Napoles’ office routinely forged signatures. Surely, this is a detail that the accused in the pork barrel plunder case will not ignore.

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DIVINE DISK: This raises the possibility that, after the demolition of Napoles as a witness, Luy himself may have to fend off challenges to his own credibility. He may have to wipe off that smug smile soon.

He and his handlers from the Department of Justice may also have to defend the integrity of his hard drive that has been elevated by media and the Senate to some kind of touchstone from which The Truth flows.

It is high time a reassessment was made. The burning of incense before Luy and his sacred disk has reached a wow point where any and all testimony that do not jibe with what he and his disk say is summarily trashed as false.

* * *

SCRAP METAL: In the same way that there are several Napoles lists, there are copies of the Luy disk (and printouts of its alleged content) being bandied around. Some news media have even used raw data based on their unauthenticated copy of the disk to selectively libel some individuals.

It must be pointed out that their copy of the supposed disk has not been formally authenticated. Neither is its alleged content privileged communication for purposes of libel prosecution.

While the National Bureau of Investigation dismisses the latest extended Napoles sworn confession-cum-list as a mere scrap of paper, Luy’s hard disk is, at this point, mere scrap metal.

* * *

CONFUSION/CONCLUSION: Why was L’affaìre Napoles sucked into a maelstrom of confusion?

Among the reasons: (1) There is an ongoing special operation to sow confusion and thereby discredit ALL lists – Napoles, Luy or whatever; and (2) Nobody on top is seeing to it that the case is properly investigated according to time-tested rules of evidence and without partisan bias.

My theory is that No. 1 had to be launched because some Big Boys are afraid that an exasperated Napoles might just decide to tell the whole sordid truth and bring down the Palace with her.

As for reason No. 2, key members of the Senate Yellow Ribbon committee cannot seem to rein in their appetite for publicity. It is a relief that the House of Representatives has refused to join the stampede for pogipoints.

Conclusion: The circus has dragged on too far. It is time the Senate folded its tent, put all that saliva in a big jar and the documents in boxes and delivered them to the Office of the Ombudsman for proper and prompt action.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 3, 2014)

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