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Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

How true is allegation that Napoles advanced cash for DAP payments at CJ Corona’s Senate trial? Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares warns that far from abolished, PDAF is alive and kicking in new P2.6T national budget for 2014, in the form of unspecified lump sums, echoed by former Nat. Treasurer Leonor Briones.Three SC justices steadfast on DAP as unconstitutional. Brillantes complains about DBM’s sudden offer of recall funds in case of LP’s Edward Hagedorn vs. Mayor Lucilo Bayron.



Star columnist Chit Pedrosa recently narrated that while she was having dinner at the residence of Sen. Loren Legarda a few days before the close of the Corona Senate impeachment trial, she overheard then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile ask Legarda to set up a dinner in her place for the senators in Enrile’s bloc.

Chit said the impression Enrile gave was that it was crucial for the group to vote as a bloc at that coming voting. The senators under the sway of JPE met at Legarda’s residence on the Sunday prior to the Senate voting on May 29, 2012, and indeed they all voted to convict Chief Justice Renato Corona.

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But it now seems that that was not the end of the story. Recall that reports circulated last year about huge pay-offs in exchange for the votes of the Enrile-influenced bloc as well as other senators, beginning with PDAFs conveniently released at mid-trial. 

Then former Sen. Panfilo Lacson leaked out news about a new porky creation called “Disbursement Acceleration Program” (DAP) that subsequently greased the palms of  convicting senators,  apart from the PDAF. Sen. Jinggoy Estrada later said there was extra pay-off of about P50 million per senator, but some reports allege as much as P100 million each.  

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But lately something else has begun to surface---a reportedly new twist to that sordid trial. There are allegations that gargantuan funds had to be borrowed from PDAF scam-operator Janet Napoles, since public funds for the senators’ SAROs were still unavailable that crucial weekend. The story alleges that a high-ranking Palace official fetched the staggering sums of money from Napoles and delivered them to Senate Chief Enrile's chief of staff, lawyer Gigi Reyes, for distribution to senators. The allegation is that the Palace couldn't produce that fast SAROs in cash for that crucial weekend, and the only person in this part of the world who would have them (in her bathtub?) in COLD CASH would be Napoles. 

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If this report is true there would be several implications. One is that unlike the President’s earlier assertion when photos of Janet Napoles and her family with him in a Cebu event first surfaced, that “anybody can have photos with the President,” there could be a deeper relationship between her and the LP, led by P-Noy and Sen. Franklin Drilon, than they would care to admit---that certainly they were not just “social acquaintance.”

Whistle-blower Sandra Cam alleged this deep link between the LP and its leaders---e.g.,between Drilon and Rene Maglanque formerly of DOTC and DAR, who defeated GMA’s loyal multi-term mayor Jerry Pelayo in the 2013 elections in Candaba, Pampanga, and Napoles (e.g., as emblazoned in campaign banners welcoming Ma’am Janet and husband).

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But if this story about the payola for the Senate having been advanced by Napoles is true, this would directly link P-Noy to Napoles, as he was the chief architect of the impeachment and conviction of Corona. If this story is true, then the super-hospitable reception she got in Malacanang earlier this year and her coddling by police authorities would no longer seem strange. Could this link be the reason why DBM Secretary Butch Abad has stoutly refused to show the complete schedule of releases per legislator from PDAF and other fund sources, as COA Chief Grace Pulido-Tan has complained in her Special Report #2012-13, and cited by Manila Times columnist Bobi Tiglao?

Perhaps JPE or Revilla or Jinggoy would affirm the accuracy of this story during their coming trial---I wouldn’t be surprised if JPE does a mea culpa on that score. Or perhaps Janet Napoles herself would, if pushed to the wall, tell that story of the cold cash for that fateful weekend. By the way, if that story is true, was Janet ever refunded for her multi-million cash advances?

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DAP Watch at the Supreme Court: the latest insider report is that three Associate Justices are steadfastly holding the line that DAP is unconstitutional: namely, Antonio Carpio, Mariano del Castillo and Presbitero Velasco. On the other hand, five justices are being wooed to the side of pro-constitutional DAP, obviously to protect the President from impeachment now or prosecution after his term. A final ruling on this hot issue is expected on July 1, and a big rally is scheduled in front of the Court. Other anti-DAP advocates advise daily rallies there until D-Day. 

Let’s conscienticize the justices to decide on DAP as unconstitutional and appeal to their patriotism to rule with the people. 

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Rep. Neri Colmenares

At the Independence Day rally by multi-sectoral groups at Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares warned---and reiterated in media by former National Treasurer Leonor Magtolis-Briones---that far from being killed by the Supreme Court when it ruled PDAF as unconstitutional last year, this notorious source of corruption in Congress is alive and kicking, in another form. Colmenares asserted that at least P932 billion is still to the found in the P2.6 trillion budget for 2014 that will be submitted by the Palace later next month, SONA time.

The pro-pork culprit this time is the LUMP SUM that’s entrenched in the budget but unspecified and un-itemized, and which could go to the President’s allies as he wills, leaving the opposition high and dry. For instance, said Colmenares, there could be a lump sum of P500 million that would simply state for “repairs” but which could be brought anywhere around the country and doled out to presidential allies. 

Colmenares advised people to push for abolition of the pork barrel system in the budget, so that whoever will push for it would get six years in jail. He stressed that presidential pork is so big that House members would just go to P-Noy for their share and he’d grant it to them if they are his allies. Colmenares added that it’s a vicious cycle as politicians need pork to get themselves and their relatives elected; he appealed to all Filipinos to work for fruition of people’s initiative to abolish the pork barrel system and political dynasties.

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Speaking of the anti-dynasty bill lodged in the House, Speaker Sonny Belmonte was quoted as opining that it won’t gain acceptance if it would severely limit the number of relatives who can run at the same time for various positions. Belmonte, whose daughter Joy is vice-mayor of Quezon City, stressed that if the anti-dynasty bill would not go beyond accepting two relatives simultaneously in elective office, it would have a tough time being passed in the House.

The  Movement Against Dynasty (MAD) which was well-represented at last  June 12’s rally, will just have to work harder and go down to the grassroots with their campaign against political dynasties, for the fact is that this evil is true in the case of about 80% of all House districts.

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Speaking of channeling all administration resources to the President’s allies, Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes thankfully found his voice and denounced the LP’s move to suddenly grant Comelec funding to set a recall procedure in motion---when such recall would work for the benefit of an LP stalwart and against the opposition. In today’s Star, Brillantes stressed that he had long asked for funding to initiate recall proceedings in various areas, but he was consistently given the answer by DBM: no funds. But now that former Puerto Princesa mayor and LP stalwart Edward Hagedorn has a pending recall petition against incumbent Mayor Lucilo Bayron, suddenly there is funding. 

Brillantes termed it “politics as usual.” It’s also yet another example of the administration’s selective justice, which is now being denounced everywhere---in practically all media columns except dyed-in-the-wool yellows, by Archbishop and CBCP President Socrates Villegas and various organizations, including the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.  If there is anything that would  bring down the administration of P-Noy, it would be the travesty of justice.


People want all those accountable for the gargantuan pork barrel/fake NGO scams prosecuted and punished, regardless of party affiliations, but to date it’s only the three opposition senators that have been indicted and soon to be arrested. 

4 comments:

  1. Why did Cong Neri allowed the passage of 2014 GAA (budget) in Congress without a fight. Greco asked SC to stop disbursement of at least 148 B lumpsum funds

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    Replies
    1. Butch Belgica, the 2014 national budget is still to be submitted in time for the opening of Congress on the last Monday of July. We all should watch out for disguised PDAFs there, in the form of unspecified lump sums.

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  2. BTW that petition filed in January this year by Greco Belgica is still pending before SC. Hope the presidential pork will still be unspent or not used for another bribery by the time SC decided

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  3. Supreme Court: All Pork Barrels- of both presidential and congressional - Unconstitutional. Thus, Illegal. SC directs to investigate ALL. So, Notices of Disallowance should be issued to ALL these illegal pork transactions (cdf/pdaf, insertions, malampaya funds on non-energy, presidential social funds from Pagcor and PCSO) of past and present administrations.

    ReplyDelete