Manila Standard - Pulling down an innocent man

In The News
30 August 2014

By Rod Kapunan | Manila Standard

Featured-image-Manila-Standard-TodayThis column truly wonders whether those people in the Commission on Audit are escapees from the national psychiatric hospital or are raving mad dogs unleashed by this pretending-to-be-honest government to make sure it will have company once it is banished by the people.

This column is inclined to believe this because of that news item implicating Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. to that scam of looting government funds through the practice of bribing members of Congress through their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and through that Florencio “Butch” Abad formula called Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The news item which appeared in a broadsheet identified as rabidly pro-administration stated that “the Commission on Audit has disapproved for being “illegal and irregular” the P10 million channeled by Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. to a livelihood project in Nakar, Quezon province, though a foundation headed by pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.” The news added that, “a notice of disallowance was issued by COA audit team leader Romeo B. Limara and supervising auditor Wilhelmina R. Cabuhat to Nakar Mayor Leovegildo R. Ruzol on June 30, ordering the return of Marcos’ P10 million, which was drawn from the Priority Development Assistance Find (PDAF) and transferred to Luy’s Social Development Program for Farmer’s Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI) for the implementation of a project called “organic farming for high value crops.”

Accordingly, the disallowance was issued because “the SDPFFI’s physical and legal existence was questionable” as its address on its local government and tax registration certificates was a residential house at South City Homes in Binan Town, Laguna province (the same village where Napoles lived before she moved to Ayala Alabang).”

Surely, the COA audit team knows they are doing a demolition job to soften the impact that has caused serious damage to the image of President Aquino. This observation is most evident for even if Senator Marcos was allocated P65 million for his so-called PDAF in 2012, which many suspected was a bait to entrap him, that amount was however never physically turned over to him. That logically explains why Senator Marcos could not have gotten the P10 million or could have turned over an amount he did not receive in the first place.

The problem is that the same press release states that the PDAF supposedly allocated to Senator Marcos was transferred to Luy’s bogus farmer’s foundation. How that happened should be the starting point in COA’s investigation, for it is possible that he confederated with some people in the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in defrauding the government. In fact, the finger pointing is indicative that Luy may have already pocketed and spent the money, which reason why he has been pointing to innocent people to deflect public suspicion of him as the principal suspect.

Those loonies in COA cannot directly demand from Senator Marcos and Mayor Ruzol the return of the money unless they have in their hands supporting documents indicating that indeed Luy turned over said funds to them other than the whistleblower’s self-serving assertion. That claim of having turned over P10 million to the Mayor of Nakar has to be proven in court because it is he, and not the two, who stands as accused of defrauding the government of its funds.

That is obvious because the name of Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. which appeared in the “detailed ledger” was digitally prepared by Luy himself, and that makes that piece of “evidence” self-serving and questionable. Even if Luy is now doing service to salvage the image of this pretending-to-be-honest government, he can still be accused for malversation. His final absolution from criminal liability can only come after he has managed to identify the recipients of those funds and itemize them to the last centavo. As a whistleblower, his duty is to help the government solve the crime, but not for him to make a profit out of the crime he himself committed.

Even Napoles, the one being pointed to by Luy as the mastermind, did not include or mentioned the name of Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. in her so-called tell-all list. This discrepancy has all the more bolstered the possibility that Luy himself may have pocketed the whole amount.

The problem, however with that press release, is it states that it was Luy himself who worked it out to withdraw the supposed PDAF of Senator Marcos and transferred it to the bogus NGO he headed. Luy’s claim of having forwarded the amount to the Mayor of Nakar would not hold water much that his claim has not been corroborated by any witness or supported by evidence independent from his assertion. In that, one could see that Luy’s modus operandi is to implicate innocent persons without them having any idea their names have been used to erase whatever trace that could lead to him as the one that pocketed the money.

Maybe Luy can file a third party complaint against those senators and congressmen he claims to have received their PDAF, but in the meantime while the issue is being proven in court, he, together with Napoles, stands as criminally liable with Abad and Pulido as their accomplice much that they all connived to secure the release of the money. The government cannot proceed to file a case against anybody just for it to recover the looted funds, for in the eyes of the law, they conspired to make possible the commission of the crime.

If the Department of Justice is now seeking to absolve Luy on the basis that he exposed the very crime he participated in running, his status as myna of this pretending-to-be-honest government does not accord him the legal right to pin down anybody as he would wish. Luy has to sustain his claim with documents, checks and vouchers that indeed he forwarded or released the funds in favor of the alleged senators and congressmen.

Moreover, one must not forget that the Supreme Court has already declared the corrupted practice that began during the time of Mrs. Aquino unconstitutional and illegal. Invariably, to detract public attention from that unexpected decision that caused a black eye to the claim of honesty by this administration, it opted to focus on the alleged P10 million claimed by Luy as having been given by him to Senator Marcos, and not on how to recover the more then P10 billion looted by Napoles and his sidekick for fear that the trail might just end up knocking at their doorstep. Some say the government is now making it easy on Napoles fearing that she could pull it down, instead of PNoy pulling down his political enemies after the fallout of the decision that abruptly halted their syndicated practice of exacting obedience through bribery using public funds.