SO PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino’s photo with Janet Lim Napoles’ daughter Jeane is the latest of the Link-to-Napoles exposes that hope to capitalize on that “guilt by association” that Senate President Franklin Drilon is so hot to dispute – he with the slew of Jenny and husband photos in the Napoles party, plus a whistleblower revelation that he was gifted with a Php65,000 Montblanc pen.
Well, obviously the Pnoy, Drilon and generally yellow sycophants are quick to hammer it in… that being in a Napoles photo doesn’t necessarily make you a pork scammer.
True… but neither is a senator or a congressman even if he indeed signed a letter endorsing a Napoles created NGO as implementor of a sham PDAF funded project. What people have to remember that our government system is supposed to be one of checks and balances. That in as much as the legislator with his (or her) legally allocated fund can assign projects to which it will go to, the rest of the process involves a series of steps and procedures supposed to ensure that the project and its proponents are vetted and that the funds make their way to the right people and projects and that spot checks are done in each step of the way.
Simply put: when the legislator assigns the PDAF fund, the allocation application goes to the implementing agency which assesses it and all its aspects (ie The Department of Agriculture for farmer or planting assistance, the department of Public Works and Highways for building a road or Department of Tourism for a promotion event), then it goes to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the needed funds. In all this the Commission on Audit (COA) has in-house auditors in each office for pre audits, post audits and everything in between.
From here we can clearly see that the PDAF scam that Napoles and company perpetrated was not so much a legislative scam but an executive scam, it going through the process and supposedly due diligence of the executive departments. So even if the congressman or senator wrote a lengthy treatise on how good and noble a project or NGO is, the executive has all the chances to say “No, this is not right” or “No, this is criminal.”
The same with COA.
So, were the handlers of these papers and procedures all on the take? It is possible. And we will see more of these stories coming to light.
The good Senate President is right, guilt by association is not the way to go. But this covers more than just photos with Napoles. It covers everybody who these criminals have touched, whether directly, indirectly, signed documents, coffee shop meetings… it is the duty of our authorities to dig deeper and study this thing comprehensively.