POSTSCRIPT / May 22, 2014 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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Napoles to bring down fattened hogs with her?

CENTRAL ROLE: The special operation to discredit all lists of pork barrel scam beneficiaries attributed to businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles appears to be succeeding. We are just awaiting the final twist, if any.

The guessing game is on what plunder suspected mastermind Napoles would do or divulge if, as President Noynoy Aquino hinted last Monday, her wish to become a state witness clothed with immunity were not granted.

Napoles is so centrally situated in the P10-billion pork barrel racket that she, if she wants, could bring several big shots and fattened hogs in government with her to prison.

So damning are Napoles’ secrets that officials afraid of being swallowed by the scandal are moving mightily to discredit in advance whatever bombshell she might detonate if denied her plea for immunity from prosecution.

(But if being “centrally located” is a qualifier, is not Budget Secretary Florencio Abad far more “central”? All those dirty pork billions passed through his hands, the Department of Budget and Management being the grand central of all disbursements of public funds.)

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WORTHLESS LISTS: No less than President Aquino has started publicly casting doubt on the probative value of Napoles’ statements, particularly the various lists attributed to her linking officials to the scam.

But the President and many others have reason to be skeptical.

If it is true as she swore before the Senate that she has forgotten most of the incriminating details of her pork barrel transactions, what suddenly jogged her mind and loosened her tongue?

Was it a Department of Justice inducement of being made a state witness and going scot-free?

Napoles should learn from society matron Ruby Tuazon, who thought she was already totally off the hook by returning P40 million of an estimated P300-million pork barrel loot and turning state witness. To her dismay, new charges are coming up against her.

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FINGER ON TRIGGER: It could be true that Napoles has a finger on the trigger that could blow up the reputation and fortunes of politicians whose dynasties had been operating as if the gold mine were inexhaustible or that they would never be caught.

With extreme pressure bearing down on the 50-year-old matron, Napoles is having problems allocating her selective amnesia. Whenever she talks of her latest list of pork beneficiaries, the listener must have on hand her previous lists for instant cross-checking.

The names change every time she whips out her latest enumeration. That is bad – for her credibility and the plunder case hanging on her (and whistle-blower Benhur Luy’s) word.

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DAGDAG-BAWAS: On the last Napolist that we saw, there were 11 senators: the targeted trio of Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, plus Vicente Sotto, Loren Legarda, Koko Pimentel, Manny Villar, Alan Peter Cayetano, Gringo Honasan, Chiz Escudero and the late Robert Barbers.

The list is a kind of work in perpetual progress. The last time we caught Napoles’ lawyer on TV, he was saying that the matron, after a flash of recollection, had added more senators and congressmen while delisting one lucky solon.

The lawyer explained that Napoles made these dagdag-bawas (add-subtract) revisions after she checked her transaction records from as far back as 2000.

Apparently she was reviewing papers that escaped the mass shredding she had ordered before the authorities swooped down on her office and while unaware of the theft of sensitive paper and electronic records by Luy after his falling out with his aunt Janet.

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OSMAK CHORE: But this new story being massaged by the lawyer opens up some questions.

Did she have those voluminous documents by her side during the several weeks she was confined and operated on at the Ospital ng Makati? She would wake up now and then to check if no loose leaf was missing?

The lawyer said Napoles was not computer literate, having left that techie thing to Luy. What she has must be paper documents. How did she work on them at the hospital even granting that OsMak personnel were accommodating enough not to notice?

How did she budget her time when Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also visited her with the administration version of a “Tell-All” affidavit whose only telltale marks are the names of opposition senators Enrile, Estrada and Revilla?

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KAWAWA NAMAN: That was a Herculean job, which might explain why she was still bleeding yesterday. Kawawa naman, if this is not just an excuse to stay longer at the hospital, away from the Spartan police detention unit in Santa Rosa.

Describing how she did it, the lawyer said: “The transactions are not just in 2007-2009. It started in 2000. It was a very long list of transactions and you tend to forget, she does not have a photographic memory. When she checked her records, ay meron pala ako nito, ay may deal pala ako nito.

“She made a list using her own handwriting and a piece of paper. It was not in a book. She has not only checks, but also vouchers.”

He did not explain how she kept those papers in her hospital room, or if a Dr. De Lima was present when she drew up her list.

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NURSES WANTED: The United States will need more than a million nurses in the next eight years because of the retirement of professional nurses and the need for new ones, according to the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By 2022, 574,00 new nurses will be employed while 555,100 registered nurses (RNs) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) will have retired, necessitating new hires that will include foreign nurses.

Some 34,200 nursing instructors will also be in demand. A practicing nurse in the US earns an average annual salary of $91,000, according to labor data.

Dean Arlene Blaise Cortez of the Arellano University College of Nursing in Pasay says there is now a need for nursing education to be reoriented towards quality nursing given the growing demand worldwide for Filipino nurses, instead of discouraging students from taking up nursing.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 22, 2014)

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