THE alleged mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam has surrendered to President Aquino on August 28 at 9:37pm. The timeline of events after (and arguably, even before) this arrest has triggered more questions and doubts than answers – at least for now.
When exactly was Napoles under government custody?
At 2am (Manila Time) on August 28 – a good friend and media colleague, Lino Celle (he is a radio commentator and chief of Radio Pinoy USA-RMN in New Jersey), posted a breaking news on my Facebook wall that says Fugitive Janet Lim-Napoles is in government custody.
“An ‘anonymous source’ from the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) told him that “NAPOLES [was] detained in [an] UNDISCLOSED LOCATION, approximately 200 kilometers North of Manila.”
I tried to get more information from Celle, to verify accuracy of news and reliability of his source of information.
Here is the thread of our conversation, which happened on August 27, around 4pm PST (around 7am August 28, Manila time). The conversation has also been publicized both in mainstream and social media.
Gel Santos Relos (GSR): For sure Ka Lino Celle?? Confirmed? Who is the credible source?
Lino Celle (LC): Gel, I can’t compromise the sources’ personal security. I believe the sources because they never missed in the past!
GSR: Ah okay…I understand. Just wanted to make sure [cause] other unreliable sources become “kuryente” sources. I hope they get her alive so those magnanakaws will be prosecuted.
LC: No kuryente, Napoles is in custody! Malalim ito!
I reposted his news link on my Facebook page with a caveat that I cannot independently verify the news. I thought if it was true, Napoles would show up.
And she did. About 18 hours after Celle’s breaking news was posted on Facebook, and just a few hours after the announcement of a P10-million reward for Napoles’ capture, she surrendered to Pres. Aquino in Malacañang.
Was it merely coincidence or did someone from the administration’s circle of trust leak the story to Celle?
If indeed Napoles was already in government custody at least 18 hours before she surrendered to PNoy, why would it be called a “surrender,” instead of an “arrest” and “turnover?”
Did Napoles surrender to PNoy’s emissary? Or is it possible that a “broker” negotiated an agreement between both parties, to ensure her safety and security first, before she was brought to Malacañang?
And besides assuring Napoles’ safety, did the Aquino administration concede to Napoles’ conditions, if any?
Conversely, did the Aquino administration make its own requirements and conditions for Napoles to concede to, before she surrendered?
More questions came up following Napoles’ surrender to PNoy:
Why did the Aquino administration concede to a Napoles surrender in Malacañang?
Why did the whole entourage have to escort Napoles to Camp Crame, with the President himself going ahead of the convoy for ocular inspection?
Lacierda was even quoted as saying: “The President wanted to make sure the area was secured, so he went to check the premises of the PNP headquarters.”
Why was a fugitive like Napoles (who is now detained for allegedly detaining pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy) given an airconditioned and semi-furnished solo room at Camp Crame?
Will Napoles resort to using the old excuse of having health problems and be allowed to be held in hospital or house arrest, with all the comfort and luxury not given to ordinary prisoners?
Will Napoles be granted immunity despite all of the hard earned taxpayers’ money she has allegedly pocketed, in exchange of the vital information she claims she has that may help prosecute senators and congressmen involved in the pork barrel scam?
Will any of these powerful senators and congressmen ever be deposed from their post and go to jail?
These are just some of the initial questions and reactions I got from kababayans about the Janet Napoles pork barrel saga.
Kababayans’ reactions are indicative of rage against Napoles, coupled with a deep sense of anger and betrayal for her co-conspirators in Senate and Congress, even among those holding posts in the executive branch.
Many of the aforementioned questions come not only from PNoy’s detractors, but from well-meaning supporters, who voted for him on his campaign promise, “Daang Matuwid.”
But a friend (who does not want to be identified) offers a different perspective about PNoy’s handling of the Napoles arrest — a point of view shared by many Aquino supporters as well.
“People will disagree with me, but I think what PNoy is doing is damage control. If he lets the mob rule, it will even be a worse scenario: failure of government, civil unrest and disobedience,” she said.
“Kung hindi niya inassure ang safety, she would still be at large. I am sure whatever his objective was, it was not to be perceived as conspiring with Napoles, “ she added. “I’ll just wait and see the outcome [instead of making] hasty generalizations.”
I do believe, though, that many of those asking questions do so, not out of malice, but to push PNoy to be more transparent, knowing that his “bosses” are vigilantly watching his every step.
It is to remind him of his promise that under his administration, “walang kaibigan, kamag-anak o kapartido,” when it comes to accountability to the public. The culture of impunity has to end, and they hope the beginning of the end is NOW.
And we, the people, expect no less, Mr. President. Masagasaan na ang masasagasaan. Kahit kapartido mo pa.
Let the truth come out. Let the guilty face the consequences of their action. This is the only way to weed out the crooks in government — the only roadmap towards your promised straight path.
If you will be able to do this, you will leave a legacy that will forever be respected, thanked for, and honored in our nation’s history.
You will be able to fulfill the unfinished business of your parents, Ninoy and Cory Aquino.
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos