Category: pork barrel

Brion’s hand on Abad’s collar

By John Nery

Much has already been said about the incident involving Budget Secretary Butch Abad and a score of student protesters at the University of the Philippines the other week. Inquirer reporter Erika Sauler’s summary sentence, in a report she filed a few days after the incident, can serve as a helpful wrap-up: “As he exited the auditorium [and made his way] to his vehicle, a group of protesters from Stand UP (Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP) ganged up on him, calling him a thief as they threw crumpled pieces of paper, placards and coins in his direction.” Other reports described one protester grabbing Abad by the collar.

Regardless of where one stands on the issue, whether the students were justified in their violent protest or not, the incident seems to me to demonstrate that words in fact have consequences in the real world.

When the Supreme Court released its decision finding parts of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program unconstitutional, the following two paragraphs were immediately taken as justification for the anti-DAP position.

“Nonetheless, as Justice [Arturo] Brion has pointed out during the deliberations, the doctrine of operative fact does not always apply, and is not always the consequence of every declaration of constitutional invalidity. It can be invoked only in situations where the nullification of the effects of what used to be a valid law would result in inequity and injustice; but where no such result would ensue, the general rule that an unconstitutional law is totally ineffective should apply.

“In that context, as Justice Brion has clarified, the doctrine of operative fact can apply only to the PAPs that can no longer be undone, and whose beneficiaries relied in good faith on the validity of the DAP, but cannot apply to the authors, proponents and implementors of the DAP, unless there are concrete findings of good faith in their favor by the proper tribunals determining their criminal, civil, administrative and other liabilities.”

In other words, President Aquino, Abad and other officials were deemed guilty until proven innocent (or possessing good faith). I think there is a straight line from this extraordinary inversion, from Justice Brion’s hand, to Abad’s collar.

a sexist sandiganbayan

so why does gigi reyes deserve to be treated differently, i.e., so terribly misogynistically badly, with handcuffs yet!  compared to the machos revilla jr. and estrada jr. and the former’s chief of staff richard cambe?  is she allegedly more guilty than the two senators and their cohorts?  or is it, as i’ve suspected from the beginning, a strategy meant to pressure her into spilling the beans on boss enrile…  sometimes i wonder why she didn’t just stay away.  i suppose she was promised fair treatment and hearing?  or maybe she was promised that enrile was too powerful, no arrests would happen.  bum steer.

Gigi’s sorrows
by Rina Jimenez-David

The sorrows that Gigi Reyes faces would seem, to some, as simply just punishment for her role in the “pork barrel scam.” She had served as chief of staff of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, one of the three senators accused (and now held in detention) for their part in the diversion of public money into private hands.

Sometimes called the “25th senator,” Reyes was said to be particularly powerful during Enrile’s term as Senate president, when she held extraordinary sway in the running of the chamber, in behalf of her boss.

But regardless of her guilt or innocence in the scam, which should be determined in the course of hearings at the Sandiganbayan, does Reyes deserve the treatment she’s now getting in the hands of the antigraft court?

Friends and relatives raise concern about how Reyes is seemingly being singled out for tougher punishment than her coaccused. Enrile is confined in an air-conditioned room at the Camp Crame Hospital after being arraigned in private, away from the media’s prying eyes. The two other senators—Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla—are being held in a especially-renovated custodial center at the PNP compound, which a human rights lawyer described as akin to a “three-star hotel” for detainees. They are joined there by other coaccused in the case, including Revilla’s chief of staff Richard Cambe, who is Reyes’ counterpart. Even Janet Napoles, considered the “brains” behind the operation, has been “enjoying” a stay at stand-alone quarters at a PNP Special Action Forces camp in Laguna.
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IN CONTRAST, Reyes has been ordered detained in a regular city jail, although she has since been staying in an “isolation room” in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig, a detention center for political detainees and certain criminals.

Recent reports said Reyes suffered an “anxiety attack” while being booked at Camp Bagong Diwa and had to be rushed to a nearby hospital and then transferred to the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City for a checkup. The court later ordered her return to the detention center.

…But if Reyes deserves to be treated like a criminal, then so should all the other accused in the crime—especially the principals.

Reyes’ camp points out a fact that many seem to have forgotten. Reyes, they said, came home from the United States where she could have stayed for as long as she wanted. “But she wanted to clear her name and trusted in the legal system,” a brother asserts. Why is she being singled out for “special” treatment? Is it in hopes that the harsh treatment would compel her to turn state’s witness, like Ruby Tuason, who was even allowed to travel abroad after she surrendered to authorities? Or are people pulling strings to scare her into silence? Your guess is as good as mine.

but wait.  here’s breaking news on @ ANC 24/7 

JUST IN: Sandiganbayan orders transfer of Janet Lim Napoles from Fort Sto. Domingo, Laguna to Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig. Sandiganbayan 3rd Division Clerk of Court Dennis Pulma says BJMP must immediately implement order to transfer Napoles.

so.  the question remains.  why the women only?  why not the men, too?  to think that the enrile cases are being handled by a woman, no less than the sandiganbayan’s presiding justice amparo cabotaje-tang who also heads the third division, and whom the president appointed to the graft court’s highest post last october, bypassing acting presiding justice gregorio ong (for alleged links to napoles) and other senior associate justices. what message are you sending, presiding justice, ma’am?  what message is the sandiganbayan sending?  parusahan agad ang mga babae, pero kaawaan, alagaan, alalayan muna ang mga lalaki?  what discrimination is this!  anti-woman much?

the DAP affair

so.  at the end of a week that felt like we were watching a reality pulitikanovela, history unfolding baga, with enrile estrada revilla in comfy “jails” and no doubt going through major major physical and psychological stresses as they are forced to adjust to drastic changes in lifestyle, to put it kindly…

also the end of a week when not a squeak was heard from the prez and his budget sec in the palace, only from spokesmen lacierda and coloma who continued to defend DAP, twas all in good faith, and hinted of appealing the supreme court decision…  this while calls for abad’s resignation and the president’s impeachment issued from “noisy minorities” left right and center, and pnoy’s yellow army was is on overdrive, looking for someone else to blame, such as the supreme court, never mind that it was a unanimous decision, or gma pa rin, she started it, lol.

so, at the end of the week, it was not too surprising to wake up to a live tv feed from the palace, a budget presentation, no less, that the prez kicked off with a brisk announcement of abad’s attempted resignation and why he rejected it.

To accept his resignation is to assign to him a wrong and I cannot accept the notion that doing right by our people is wrong. 

my problem with this, really, is that it is simplistic and disingenuous, as though the issue were not more complex.  even more irritating, the president is asking us to take his word for it — they did no wrong, DAP benefitted the country — this, while they get their act, i mean, the documentary evidence, together, i suppose.

pero ika nga ni propesor randy david:

The administration gains nothing from merely claiming that the PDAF and DAP had good intentions. As things stand, nothing less than a full accounting of these funds can persuade the public that these were not plundered. Of course, there is a risk in detailing how the DAP funds were allocated. It is almost certain that doing so will reveal how much of the vaunted “daang matuwid” has been paved in patronage. But I think that is still a small price to pay in exchange for achieving the Constitution. 

and true to the crisis-ridden telenovela format, the weekend brings a palace alert: the prez will be addressing the nation tomorrow monday at 6 pm. abangan!  hmm, suddenly it can’t wait till the SONA, that’s interesting.  crunch time?  should be either of two things: he will convince us that DAP was concocted in good faith, with documents galore to prove that it contributed significantly to economic growth, or he will say i-am-sorry and promise to rein in the “creative” urge to improvise and hasten processes without due diligence.

ika nga ni dean tony la vina:

the Aquino administration might have been blinded by their conviction that they were doing the right thing for the economy and the people, and because of that belief, disregarded the legal technicalities. Even now, one discerns this flawed thinking in the stubborn defense of DAP even after the Supreme Court decision, an attitude that could bode bad for other serious decisions with complex legal issues (the Bangsamoro Basic Law comes to mind) in the remaining years of this administration.

I respectfully urge a little humility to acknowledge mistakes when they happen, as it always does in governance, so corrections could be made. In fact, with the right legal staff work, DAP, which is conceptually an innovation that might have potential to solve the perennial problem of under spending by the departments, could have been crafted in a constitutional way and the same policy objectives could have been achieved without being tainted with illegality. But that, unfortunately, is water under the bridge. 


enrile, inquirer, surrender

watching the surrender of enrile on tv was kind of surreal, as in, really?  it’s happening?  now na?  wow!

for a while there, when jinggoy’s arrest was not quickly followed by enrile’s, i remarked on facebook that his lawyer estelito mendoza was probably trying out every legal gimmick, every trick in the book, to stop the sandiganbayan from ruling on probable cause.  i could imagine all the wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes, favors being called even, all to no avail, it now would seem, except for a few days’ delay.  wow!

this is nothing like the arrests for “rebellion” in 1990 and 2001 that, in both cases, alleged enrile to be on power-grab mode; both times he was out in a matter of days.  this one is for plunder, some 172 million in alleged PDAF kickbacks 2007 to 2009, which he denies, of course, he will prove his innocence in court, and maybe he will, but meanwhile he is under arrest and detention.

in fairness, it was a relief that his surrender was without the showbiz dramatics that attended the last hurrahs of estrada jr. and revilla jr., two clowns who quite likely entertained the illusion that the millions who voted for them would gather in protest as erap’s masses did when he was arrested in 2001.  enrile, it would seem, had no such illusion, even if he was the original EDSA hero.  no presscon, no statement, hardly any photos or video of him, and no mugshots released.

nakakapagpaisip.  i’m sorry it’s happening now, when he’s old and ailing, but, again, wow, quite a big fish he is, and i have been backtracking: paano na nga nangyari ito?  let’s give credit where credit is due.  o nasabit lang ba kay napoles at sa inquirer scoop of benhur luy’s records?

but wait, speaking of the inquirer, suddenly i remember someone saying something about the broadsheet in connection with enrile’s case, and i google it, and, hey hey hey, straight from an official statement by gigi reyes, issued from the states in sept 2013.

The PDI evidently has an ax to grind against me. I say so because in a private dinner in Rockwell a few months back where I accompanied my former boss, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, PDI Editor-in-Chief Mrs. Letty Jimenez Magsanoc openly told us about her deep personal hurt over the Senator’s published “Memoirs” which recounted the beginnings of the PDI and what she called the “unfair” portrayal of Ms. Eugenia “Eggie” Apostol.

it was just a few months after the corona impeachment trial when enrile launched A Memoir (september 2012).  at totoo naman na grabe ang ginawang panlalait ni enrile kay eggie.  i thought she could have taken him to court for libel atbp. and oh what an alta siyudad media scandal that would have been, who might the rest of media have sided with kaya, ano?  magsanoc was smarter than that, of course.  maaaring the inquirer had inside info on the nbi’s or coa’s investigations of napoles, maaring they got wind of benhur luy’s records, and it would be interesting to know if benhur’s parents offered the inquirer the info out of the blue, or if it was the inquirer that initiated the contact by sending feelers.  how powerful can media get?

whatever, is that cackling i hear from the eggie side of makati?  enrile’s editor and publisher should have warned him about women scorned: hell hath no fury, and all that jazz.