by.the.way


IMAGINE a member or members of Congress spending time in jail after being charged with the non-bailable offense of plunder arising from the billion-peso pork barrel scandal.

That would be the day.

Assuming the Aquino Administration is dead serious in prosecuting anyone who amassed wealth at the expense of the Filipino people, then Janet Lim-Napoles should be high on the list of the plunder rap sheet.

It was she who spilled the beans and who allegedly profited the most from the diversion of public funds under the Priority Development Assistance Fund, in collusion with members of Congress.

If Napoles is charged with a lesser crime like illegal detention, and not plunder, people would say that President Aquino intervened on her behalf in return for her hefty contributions to the Liberal Party in the last two elections.

If that is the case, Napoles indeed, as she gloats, “owns” the government.

She must have said this after running rings around the bureaucracy for so long she thought herself beyond the pale, which she was until her lucrative racket unravelled before an indignant public.

This should disabuse the mind of the public that Napoles is above the law in view of her alleged connection with President Benigno Aquino, who went out of his way to accept her “surrender” and whisked her to Camp Crame for booking.

That is out of character for a president to do considering that she was a fugitive from justice.

Not entirely surprising.

How many indiscretions have been committed by this administration in the name of the much-ballyhooed “Daang Matuwid” (Straight Path) policy?

He started on the right note, to his credit.

He vowed to put former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo behind bars before Christmas two years ago, which he did after she was charged with electoral fraud and plunder.

She has remained in detention (at a government hospital) since then but no charges have yet been filed against her.

Like any accused, she should have her day in court but no such thing is imminent.

In fact, at the rate prosecutors are dragging their feet, she might rot in jail until Aquino’s six-year term ends in 2016.

But aside from Arroyo, no other big fish has been ensnared in the President’s anti-corruption net.

Who will be next?

At least four senators, all members of the opposition, are in line to be charged with plunder or malversation of public funds for misusing their PDAF allocations.

But the four — Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla and Gregorio Honasan — are not quaking in their boots, denied any wrongdoing, and vowed to clear their names.

So they say.

Do the Sandiganbayan have the goods on the “PDAF Four?”

What happens if they — and other lawmakers — are charged with a non-bailable crime, will they be clapped in jail or suspended from office?

Who will determine that, the Supreme Court or Congress?

Or will the scandal die a natural death, as with every sensational exposé in the past?

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