Editorial

Solutions to the pork barrel saga

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Along with public outrage over the corruption committed in the use of the pork barrel came proposals that range from the obvious to the surprising to the sensible.

First was a suggestion to tap Janet Lim Napoles as a state witness against legislators who enriched themselves with the discretionary fund.

It was an obvious solution to prosecuting these lawmakers and public officials but not the right one. With over P10 billion in her pocket, it’s like condoning Napoles’ wrongdoings in exchange for going after the bigger repeat offenders.

Why should taxpayers who were already robbed by her and lawmakers, and whose money was used to pay for the extravagant 21st birthday celebration of Napoles’ daughter, now be made to fork over their money to pay for her protection?

Why shouldn’t Napoles be jailed first and then told to squeal on her contacts on pain of a life term in Muntinlupa prison?

Not even if she was ordered to return all her ill-gotten wealth or if the government sequesters it as part of the people’s rightful claim to it. Giving her the government’s mantle of protection through the witness protection program would not only be a disgrace but a slap on the faces of all Filipinos and the Aquino administration.

A solution was proposed by President Benigno Aquino III when he approved a P10 million reward for any information leading to the arrest of Napoles.

But if it’s only about money, Napoles could match it, couldn’t she? With her ill-gotten P10 billion wealth, one can only guess how far she’s willing to pay to keep herself out of jail.

The cat and mouse game between the government and Napoles may take some time. Until authentic video footage is shown of her being handcuffed by the police, the public won’t see the end of Janet.

A ray of sunlight in this grim episode comes from Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, widow of the late interior and local government secretary Jesse Robredo.

Drawing from Jesse’s experience as Naga City’s award-winning mayor and at the Department of Interior and Local Government, Robredo proposed an incentives-driven system in securing funding for barangays to encourage local officials and citizens to work for their own development.

This noteworthy proposal, which can be deliberated on at another time, is one of the positive developments moving forward in the Napoles saga.

That and the revival of flames of patriotism and conscience in the hearts and minds of Filipinos, who know it’s time for ordinary citizens to say no to political greed.

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