Thursday, December 17, 2015

90. #5 Defining Moment of the PNoy Administration: Napoles surrendersto the President

It's probably #1 in another list of most dubious spin stories of Philippine history. Malacanang said it was like Luis Taruc surrendering to Magsaysay in the 50s. But I couldn't buy that unless they showed that that criminal also got special treatment in prison. The Napoles scandal was an obscure illegal detention case picked up by the Inquirer, allegedly fueled by a woman's wrath against an ex-lover, which uncovered what congressmen have been doing with their "soft" projects from their pork barrel for many years and across administrations in the post-Marcos era. The PNoy Administration's anti-corruption rhetoric created the conditions for this scandal to be exposed, but it was apparent it wasn't prepared to accept its consequences. When asked if PNoy knew Napoles before, PNoy would allude to his poor memory and excuse himself from giving a straight answer. Around the same time, the COA report on the pork barrel came out and one of the biggest spenders turned out to be administration ally Cong. Boyet Gonzalez, the majority floor leader of the House of Representatives, who allegedly spent about half a billion pesos in basketball leagues and burgers. Curiously, PNoy's own pork barrel records showed that he didn't get any, as the COA complained they couldn't get any records from the Department of Budget. Napoles would soon reveal that it was Butch Abad, PNoy's Secretary of Budget, who taught her how the racket works. I've been a fan of Abad since the days of Salonga-Pimentel, and I found the story really hard to believe. But you tie up this story with how PNoy received Napoles in Malacanang and how he turned her over to the PNP riding all the way from Malacanang to Camp Crame in the evening traffic, coupled with the fact that she was treated as a special prisoner, allegedly because people were out to kill her, and you suspect this defining moment is not a positive one at all. What is clear, however, is that the comparison with the surrender of Taruc to Magsaysay in the 50s is hot air and we will not get the true story until many years later.

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