“A dark, powerful force undoubtedly emanating from Malacañang may stay Janet Lim-Napoles’ tongue and prevent her from spilling the beans in today’s Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing.” – Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — The #AbolishPork Movement held a protest action at the gates of the Senate shortly before Janet Lim-Napoles was set to appear before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the pork barrel scam. Napoles is named by former underlings turned whistle blowers as behind ghost projects of fake NGOs that had pocketed at least P10-billion from the pork barrel fund of legislators in the past years.
“We hope that the truth would be finally revealed. Napoles should reveal how she operated under the current administration of Pres. Aquino,” said Monet Silvestre, convenor of #AbolishPork Movement.
The group expects that the people’s questions on the issue would be answered today.
“What was Napoles’ deal with the Palace when she surrendered? Who else benefits from the pork barrel scam? No stone should be left unturned. All those who stole from the people should be punished,” Silvestre said.
#AbolishPork also warned legislators against using the hearing for political grandstanding. They expressed hopes that there will be no more “paghuhugas-kamay” on the part of the government officials, including Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino.
“The people want the pork barrel abolished, including the PDAF and the DAP which is systematically used by congressmen, senators, executive officials in connivance with Napoles and her fake NGOs to steal the nation’s coffers. Pres Aquino should stop defending the pork barrel system,” he said.
Since early this year, revelations on Napoles’ scams have turned the heat on the pork barrel system and on politicians seen as benefiting from it. President Aquino has been criticized in past mammoth rallies against pork for his being “hypocritical” – that is, the critics said, Aquino is presenting himself as for righteousness when he himself is in fact the “lord of the thieves,” or the “pork barrel president,” given that he has repeatedly defended his own pork, which, at P1.3-trillon or more, is said to be the biggest of all politicians’ pork.
Other anti-pork groups expressed doubts, though, whether Napoles would help shed light on the pork barrel scam and who ultimately benefits from it. Ever since her dubious surrender to no less than President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, who escorted her that night, critics have maintained that Napoles is just “the tip of the iceberg” in the scam, or she is allegedly just the big politicians’ money launderer.
“A dark, powerful force undoubtedly emanating from Malacañang may stay Janet Lim-Napoles’ tongue and prevent her from spilling the beans in today’s Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing,” Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said in a statement.
“She may indeed invoke the right against self-incrimination, in fact the possibility is high that she would do just that, yet she would surely do this not only to protect herself but a force more powerful and more sinister than her. Dark forces lurk in the higher echelons of government, and it will be this force – not just self-incrimination – that will be the most powerful stumbling block in today’s hearing,” Ridon added.
Sports and theatre vs corruption
Earlier in the morning of Napoles’ attending the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the pork barrel scam, members of Youth Act Now protested while jogging at the Senate grounds bearing placards on their chests calling for the abolition of the pork barrel system. They urged the other regular joggers in the CCP Complex to join the protest actions against pork.
Two days before, a group of self-confessed hackers tried to march to Congress to protest also the pork barrel system.
Before Napoles’ schedued arrival in the Senate, the Youth Act Now joined #AbolishPork movement and AKKSYON (Artista Kontra Kurupsyon) in a protest action. AKKSYON, a national alliance of artists and cultural workers, joined the morning protest and with popular personality Juana Change, they staged a mock arrival of Napoles.
“More and more artists are coming together for the cause unlike any I’ve seen. We are showing the true face of Napoles and Aquino, how with their lies and plunder they are provoking and incurring the people’s wrath,” Jay Del Rosario of AKKSYON and Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan said.
The group Youth Act Now pointed to Aquino and the likes of Napoles as just “two sides of the same coin.” Einstein Recedes, spokesman of Youth Act Now, said “Aquino’s recent defence of the DAP only shows that this administration is more concerned with safeguarding pork and its proponents rather than abolishing it. He is not an ally of the Filipino people who want genuine change for the country.”
The anti-pork groups are dismayed that despite the outrage shown by various groups against pork, “Aquino has the nerve to protect pork, including his own,” Recedes said in a statement.
After budget deliberations and various protests outside Congress, anti-pork groups complained that the House of Representatives still passed the proposed national budget largely retaining the presidential pork. They criticized Aquino for holding on to his huge pork while implementing massive cutbacks to basic social services.