Palace disbursed P69B for Napoles By Francisco S. Tatad | Posted - TopicsExpress


Palace disbursed P69B for Napoles By Francisco S. Tatad | Posted 12 hours ago | 7,420 views 289 Francisco-TatadAgainst all efforts to exclude any pro-Aquino official from any case related to the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam, it now appears that in 2012 Malacañang itself used Janet Lim Napoles, the reputed mastermind, as a conduit to release P49 billion to P69 billion “pork” to the members of Congress to induce them to impeach and remove then-Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, and to railroad the passage of the widely opposed, anti-Catholic reproductive health bill. At least three opposition senators have been charged with alleged involvement in this scam before the Ombudsman. Initially revealed by Manila Standard columnist Jojo Robles in his two-part column last Thursday and Friday, without however indicating the amounts and the intermediaries involved, the information was confirmed to this writer by independent sources, who said at least P24 billion was disbursed by Malacanang to effect Corona’s impeachment and removal, and P25 billion to ram through the RH bill. In addition to these “special funds,” an extra P20 billion was believed to have been released to the lawmakers as “regular pork,” the sources said. According to our sources, two Cabinet members, who are said to be “specially close to Napoles” and to the senators, worked with Napoles on the Senate votes during the two vote-buying operations, while the House majority leader Neptali Gonzales II took care of the congressmen, in close collaboration with Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda and communications secretary Ramon Carandang, who kept vigil over the House during the final voting on the RH bill. Whether the money went into real projects, this means the President disbursed huge amounts for purposes not authorized by law, the sources said. Under Sec. 29 (1), Article VI of the Constitution, “no money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.” The fact that billions were used to bribe members of Congress to do the President’s will would constitute culpable violation of the Constitution, bribery, graft and corruption, betrayal of public trust and other high crimes—everything mentioned in Sec. 2, Article XI of the Constitution (with the exception of treason) as grounds for impeaching and removing the President and other impeachable officials. Whether Aquino could be impeached and removed as easily as he had Corona is an altogether different matter. But the crime has been committed, and it cannot remain unpunished forever, the sources said. Corona first incurred the ire of President B. S. Aquino III when he accepted his appointment as Chief Justice on May 12, 2010, less than two months before President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ended her term on June 30, 2010. The incoming president denounced this as a “midnight appointment” even though the Supreme Court had ruled that the prohibition on “midnight appointments” did not apply to the judiciary. Upon his inauguration, Aquino broke precedent by taking his oath before Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales instead of the Chief Justice, and by refusing to recognize the latter’s presence at the inaugural during his address. Subsequent actions by the High Court did not improve the relationship between the President and the Chief Justice. On July 26, 2011, the Corona court declared Aquino’s order creating a Truth Commission unconstitutional. On Oct. 4, 2011, the Court revoked Aquino’s order reinstating Philippine Airlines flight attendants. On Nov. 15, 2011, the Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order on a Department of Justice watchlist order on former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo. On Nov. 22, 2011, the Court by a vote of 14 to 0, with only Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio not participating, ordered the redistribution of Hacienda Luisita, owned by Aquino’s maternal family, the Cojuangcos, to the farmers. Then Aquino took the offensive. On Dec. 6, 2011, at the National Criminal Justice Summit at the Manila Hotel where he was the guest speaker, he frontally attacked Corona, who was hosting the event and was seated a few meters away, as being beholden to Arroyo. He questioned the Court’s decision to issue a TRO on the watchlist order on the Arroyo couple and the Court’s ruling on a petition questioning the constitutionality of an act of Congress creating a new district in Camarines Sur. Arroyo, who is now detained, was not facing any charge at that time. On Dec. 12, 2011, without any preliminary hearings, Corona was impeached by the House of Representatives after 188 congressmen, who had previously met with Aquino in Malacañang, signed an impeachment complaint containing eight charges, without themselves reading the document. Corona was tried by the Senate, acting as an impeachment court, beginning January 16, 2012. He was convicted by a vote of 20 to 3 on May 29, 2012, after the prosecution whittled down the eight articles of impeachment to virtually just one, which to many independent lawyers “did not even constitute an impeachable crime.” Sixteen votes were needed to convict, and of the 23 senator-judges who voted, only three did not convict. These were Joker Arroyo, a former executive secretary to President Cory Aquino and lead prosecutor in the botched impeachment trial of Joseph Ejercito Estrada in 2000, Miriam Defensor Santiago, a former trial court judge and a prospective judge at the International Criminal Court at the Hague, and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, the son and namesake of the late president Marcos. Arroyo has been termed out; Santiago and Marcos are still in the Senate. The RH bill was widely opposed from the very beginning by a predominantly Catholic population. But Aquino publicly announced support for it after meeting with President Barack Obama in the US and receiving a $434 million grant from the Millennium Challenge for three projects in the Philippines. Denounced by its enemies as a population control measure, it was approved on second reading by a vote of 113 to 109 in the House on Dec. 13, 2012. It passed the House on third reading on Dec. 19 by a vote of 133 to 79, with seven abstentions. Secretaries Abad, Roxas, Lacierda and Carandang did not leave the premises of the House until it was all over. The bill passed the Senate on second reading on Dec. 18 by a vote of 13 to 8, and on third reading the next day, Dec. 19, by the same numbers. To avoid any strong public reaction, Aquino signed the bill as Republic Act 10354, otherwise known as the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, like any ordinary office document, without the usual official ceremony witnessed by a formal audience and the Palace press on Dec. 21. The signing was announced by the House majority floor leader seven days later on Dec. 28. Thirteen petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court questioning the validity of the law on constitutional grounds. The court en banc has finished hearing the oral arguments. During the oral arguments, the principal sponsor of the bill and at least one justice tried to make much of the fact that the 113 votes in favor of the bill on second reading at the House rose to 133 votes on final reading, while the number of those against went down from 109 to 79. The revelation that at least P25 billion was used to bribe the lawmakers to pass RA 10354 could have some persuasive effect on the Court. No details are yet available to show if any portion of the purported P69-billion “pork” went to any “ghost project” through some “bogus foundation” under a 70-30 sharing arrangement in favor of the lawmakers. This was supposed to be characteristic of Napoles’s alleged operations. These details may not be known until the appropriate reports from the Commission on Audit are in. Such reports could be used to support an impeachment complaint; but it is unlikely such a complaint would prosper. The House has the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment, and the Senate the sole power to try and decide such cases. At least one third of the House membership is needed to send the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate for trial. Although this number was easily exceeded in the case of Corona, and in the earlier case of then-President Joseph Ejercito Estrada in 2000, there may not be enough congressmen willing or ready to impeach Aquino at this point. He controls the two Houses of Congress. Even if impeached by the House, there may not be 16 senators willing and ready to convict him. Nevertheless, the lack of any real prospect of impeaching the President does not diminish his impeachability, nor does it render him immune from criminal prosecution forever. He might escape impeachment now, but he may not be able to avoid criminal prosecution once he is no longer president. What he has done to Arroyo, his successor could likewise do to him, unless he was succeeded by a clone who would guarantee him continued impunity in retirement. Still the adverse and negative fallout from the Napoles affair cannot be diluted nor postponed. The veil of secrecy that had shrouded his relationship with Napoles has been ripped open, and the more he tries to disown it, the more his secret is revealed. The public may now be disposed to believe that Napoles’s dealings with Aquino and the people around him are far more extensive and outrageous than those with the senators and congressmen. And yet only three opposition senators have been charged before the Ombudsman. That could weigh heavily on Aquino’s conscience. Aquino’s biggest problem is that he has lost all credibility—nobody believes him and those who speak for him and his government anymore. At precisely the time when some people would probably like to see their fallen idol tied to a lamppost, Aquino’s inane and inept propagandists are doing their worst to cheer him up by inventing all sorts of falsehoods. At a time when his satisfaction rating is probably below zero, one stupid newspaper had the gall to scream: “Satisfaction with Noy gov’t hits record 75%—SWS”. This goes beyond all levels of permissible insult and nonsense . The survey, if real, was obviously fudged; these propaganda surveys are normally manufactured for a fee. In any case, the alleged data is at least three months old, before the whole Napoles thing exploded. Since then the web of deception has been exposed. Hours before he announced on August 28 a P10-million bounty for information leading to the arrest of Napoles, who had been on the lam since August 14, after the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 ordered her arrest, RPN Radio Pinoy in New York told its Filipino-American listeners that she had already fallen into the hands of the authorities and was being kept in a safehouse far away from Malacañang. This tended to support this writer’s Sept. 16 article which quoted authoritative sources as saying that at 10:30 am of that day Napoles came to Malacañang, escorted by Lacierda, and had a lunch meeting inside the Music Room with Aquino and some Cabinet members. At 4:30 pm, she left with Lacierda, and then reappeared at 9:27 pm, again with Lacierda, to formally “surrender” to the President. Without denying that Napoles ever came to the Palace in his company for lunch with Aquino, Lacierda had since spent his time throwing invectives at this writer and running film footage to show that at 10:00 am of Aug 28 the President was addressing a conference at nearby Sofitel Hotel, and at 1:30 pm he was addressing a conference at Heroes Hall, a few steps away from the Music Room. As if to say that even if Napoles had come, Aquino was not there to have had lunch with her. Meanwhile some parties have tried to shut down this paper’s website or at least make sure that this writer’s articles could not be posted on Facebook. This looks like a throwback to the August 1987 coup attempt when the late columnist Luis Beltran, a devoted Cory Aquino fan, wrote that at the height of the firing outside the Palace Cory was compelled “to hide under her bed.” The phrase was intended to be a figure of speech, but Cory took it literally and brought in the TV cameras to show there was not enough space to hide under her bed. She took Beltran and his publisher, the late Max Soliven, to court for libel, and on Oct. 22, 1992, they were sentenced to two years imprisonment and fined P2 million in damages. Like Cory, Lacierda could probably have filmed the Music Room in all its emptiness to prove his case. But Aquino and his boys certainly know they have reached the deadend, so the President and Commander-in-Chief had to go to Zamboanga City to play war games and “to boost the morale” of the troops trying to contain the forces of the Moro National Liberation Front. He probably had hoped Zamboanga would let people forget Napoles, but they merely noted the make-believe general in Zamboanga, and then talked of little else. So he went missing for days and the nation, least of all the ill-provisioned troops whose “morale” he had come to boost, did not know where he was. [email protected]
Posted on: Mon, 23 Sep 2013 04:45:09 +0000

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