Navigating the crimes of the plunder mastermind
By SENATOR MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO
(Privilege speech on 4 December 2013)
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen of the Senate:
Mastermind of Plunder
It comes rarely in the life of the nation that a people, under the travails of developing country status, aided by providence, find it in themselves to rise above the morass of political corruption, and to build the architecture for a fresh and shining territory where people live free of the forces of darkness.
Today, the time has come. At last we stand at the very heart of the epic pork barrel corruption in the Congress, specially the Senate. Why are the proportions of corruption so epic in scale? How did the criminals manage to steal some P10 billion pesos of the people’s money in just ten years? Who is the mastermind?
Guided by faith in a just God and in the rule of law, dozens of whistleblowers have testified in writing and provided supporting documents to prove that the very heart of darkness is the leadership of the Senate itself. Thorough NBI investigation has led the Department of Justice to file formal charges of plunder against the first batch of suspects, led by no less than the Senate President at that time, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile. The Ombudsman is conducting preliminary investigation, and has assured the public that justice will not be denied: the resolution will be issued by the end of this month.
Notably, the Ombudsman has admitted receiving a memorandum of over 200 pages pinpointing Enrile as the mastermind of plunder. That official memorandum validates the charge I aired in the latest hearing of the Blue Ribbon Committee, where I first made that very same accusation, based on the lawyer’s thought process of enlightened scepticism. If he smarted against the accusation, Enrile could have requested for an additional hearing where he could be personally present and interpellate Janet Napoles, who appears to be his BFF, or Best Friend Forever. But he chooses to stay away and keep silent, because he is immobilized by fear and humiliation.
Instead of presenting evidence to the public of his hypocritical protestations of innocence, Enrile once again chose to steer public attention to what he hopes will be a diversion: the lies and black propaganda hurled against me during the 1992 presidential campaign. This man, contrary to logic and common sense, hopes to evade criminal prosecution and public outrage over his plunder, by resurrecting campaign dirt against me which are over 21 years old! Dream on, old man, aka Tanda.
Enrile tried to portray me in the blackest terms. He pointedly ignored the fact that I am a laureate of the Asian Nobel Prize, the 1988 Magsaysay Award for government service. According to the official citation, the Award “recognizes her bold and moral leadership in cleaning up a graft-ridden government agency.” Media has noted that I am reportedly “the most awarded Filipino public official,” because I won such awards as TOYM, TOWNS, and U.P.’s most outstanding law alumnus. Enrile never reached these levels of professional recognition. Please feel free to compare my resume to his, since my biography appears in Wikipedia.
This was not only bringing parliamentary debate to the lowest level. It is a violation of every canon of civility and decency in public discourse. Parliamentary rules strictly forbid arguments ad hominem, but my attacker delivered an entire speech by appealing to personal prejudices rather than to reason; and by attacking my character rather than my assertion that he is the mastermind of the plunder. In fact, my attacker is guilty of violating the Senate Rules, Rule 34, Sec. 94: “No Senator, under any circumstances, shall use offensive or improper language against another Senator or against any public institution.” (Emphasis added). Under Rule 34, he has committed the offense of “unparliamentary acts and language,” and I shall charge him with disorderly behaviour with the Ethics or the Rules Committee, punishable by suspension for 60 days.
Enrile’s Total Lack of Credibility
My attacker is the icon of shameless lying. Under President Ferdinand Marcos, he claimed that as defense secretary he was ambushed, thus laying the ground for the imposition of martial law. Under President Corazon Aquino, he retracted and admitted that his ambush was faked and staged. Then under President Benigno Aquino III, he retracted again and he now claims in his memoirs that the ambush was genuine after all. He eats his own words for breakfast. In the law of evidence, he has absolutely no credibility. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. False in one thing, false in all things.
The Supreme Court has ruled: “For evidence to be believed, it must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness, but must be credible in itself, such as the common experience and observation of mankind can approve as probable under the circumstances.” People v. Loriega, 326 SCRA 675 (2000).
Enrile’s bungled attempt at revisionist history and his blatant disinformation has been widely condemned by all sectors of society. The man is an incorrigible liar and criminal, as brought out by the litany of his crimes against the Filipino people. Accordingly, I respectfully urge the justice secretary to order an immediate and exhaustive investigation into the following crimes under the Penal Code committed by Enrile:
1. Command responsibility for death and disappearance during martial law.
In 2012, the Communist Party of the Philippines sent an email to media, with the following condemnation of Enrile as delusional in his notorious memoirs: “Enrile was Marcos’ hatchet man and the one who signed countless warrants that led to the capture and detention of thousands of former leaders, workers, students, activists in the Church, and other critics and opponents of martial law. Enrile’s hands are forever stained with the blood of close to 4,000 people ‘salvaged’ during Marcos’ reign of terror . . . . Enrile exposed himself as a liar.” (Inquirer Visayas, 10 October 2012).
During martial law, Enrile was the almighty defense secretary, when I was appointed the youngest RTC judge in the mecca of judges, Metro Manila, serving in Quezon City. In 1985, when gasoline prices went up, some fifty students from UP and Ateneo joined a street demonstration in Cubao to protest the martial law regime. Most of them were seniors scheduled to take their final exams and to graduate from college. Enrile ordered the military to arrest the students, on the basis of a martial law presidential decree that defined the crime of illegal assembly as any gathering opposed to the administration, and that imposed the death penalty.
I was assigned to the case. I suspended trial in all other cases and continuously heard the illegal assembly case morning, afternoon, and evening. The issue was: Does martial law automatically cancel the right to bail? My decisive answer was no, and I ordered the release of the students. However, the military defied my release order, and in fact filed a second charge of inciting to sedition. The accused appealed, and the Supreme Court in effect upheld me. This was the 1990 case of Brocka, Cervantes, et al. v. Enrile, Ramos, et al., 192 SCRA 183 (1990).
From the very beginning, Enrile has always resented that Supreme Court decision and held it against me, for refusing to kowtow to him even during the dark days of martial law, when he swaggered around town as if he owned it. The Supreme Court slapped him down, ruling: “that the criminal proceedings had become a case ofpersecution, having been undertaken by state officials in bad faith.” The Court pointed a finger at Enrile, and criticized “respondent’s bad faith and malicious intent.” The Court warned Enrile that he did not have a license to run roughshod over a citizen’s basic constitutional rights, such as due process, or manipulate the law to suitdictatorial tendencies.” (Emphasis added). This was and remains Enrile’s arrogant, tyrannical attitude to young people: persecution in bad faith, malice, and dictatorial. He has never changed. Brocka v. Enrile, at p. 189.
2. Mastermind of the biggest plunder case in Philippine history.
In June 2013, the Department of Budget and Management released statistics showing that in a five-year period for 2005 to 2013, Enrile was the biggest recipient of pork barrel, amounting to a total of P1.189 billion. According to whistleblowers, Enrile gave the syndicates of dummy NGOs run by Janet Napoles, access to his pork barrel in no less than 22 instances. In all, Enrile reportedly gave P641.65 million from his pork barrel funds to dummy corporations founded by Napoles. Merlina Suñas, a whistleblower, testified that Napoles personally talked to the senator concerned, or the chief of staff. Suñas also testified that in 2012, her dummy foundation received P5 million in pork barrel funds from Enrile.
The Commission on Audit issued a PDAF report that in 2011, Enrile was one of four government officials who gave some P206 million in pork barrel funds through the Department of Agriculture to a questionable NGO from 2009-2010. The Inquirer story said: “Enrile withheld further comment, until he had checked his records.” Until now, Enrile has clung to his right to remain silent, causing a group of netizens to start a movement called Kumibo Ka Naman, Enrile, or for short, KKNE.
In the midst of all the damning evidence against him, Enrile has kept silent as a cowering mouse. He could very well have delivered a privilege speech proving his innocence. Instead, his speech was directed at me, rehashing black propaganda invented against me during the 1992 presidential campaign. You will remember I led in the counting for the first five days, but was cheated of the presidency. I filed an electoral protest, but it was dismissed by the Supreme Court, after I was elected senator. He is silent on the evidence, but voluble on malice. His speech amounted to verbal violence against a woman confined to her sickbed, while he preened in the Senate, demonstrating his skill as the Drama King of corrupt politics.
3. King of a smuggling empire.
In 1995, then Representative Enrile, a native of Gonzaga, Cagayan, authored R.A. No. 7922, creating the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority or CEZA. Section 6 para (f) gives to CEZA the right “to operate . . . tourism-related activities, including games, amusements, recreational and sports facilities such as horse-racing, dog racing, gambling casinos, golf courses, and others, under priorities and standards set by CEZA.” (Emphasis added).
The free port occupies 441,000 hectares, an area almost three times the size of Quezon City. Enrile claimed that the port would become the hub in Southeast Asia of interactive gaming, shipping, and ecotourism. The Port Irene CEO is Enrile’s relative Jose Mari Ponce. According to Enrile himself, his “representative” in the port is his son-in-law, James Kocher, an American who, according to former US Ambassador Kristie Kenney, “runs an auto import operation in the port, and is suspected of involvement in smuggling.” (Released by Wikileaks on U.S. embassy Cable 08 Manila 1417 sent by Kenney to the US Department of State on 13 June 2008.) Enrile, according to the cable, presided at a Senate hearing and indulged himself by repeatedly and fiercely shouting at representatives of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce, because the foreign businessmen had complained about smuggling in Port Irene.
On 12 December 2002, President Gloria Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 156, imposing a partial ban on the importation of used cars. In the 2006 case of Executive Secretary v. Southwing, in effect the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the ban. And in the 2013 case of Executive Secretary v. Forerunner, the Supreme Court again upheld the validity of the law.
During all this time, in open defiance of the Supreme Court rulings banning importation of used cars, CEZA continued its importations. In 2012, car traders imported some 5,400 vehicles contained in 18 shipments. In February 2013, a Japanese cargo ship set off for Port Irene, with a shipment of Hummers, Porches, BMWs, Mercedes Benzes, a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, and other used luxury cars. The government refused to issue clearance for registration of the shipments, and CEZA was forced to re-export 600 used cars.
Presumably, because of all the illegal shenanigans in Port Irene, just last month, Senator Sergio Osmeña, chair of subcommittee B of the finance committee, recommended a cut from the CEZA budget of P800 million. On Enrile’s appeal, Osmeña agreed to restore this amount of nearlyP1 billion, subject to certain conditions. That’s how much of the taxpayers’ money go to finance Enrile’s smuggling empire.
4. Anticipated king of gambling empire.
CEZA operates online gaming outside the jurisdiction of Pagcor. The Cagayan ecozone is the only ecozone in the country that is allowed by the Enrile law to host and issue online gambling licenses to offshore companies. Such foreigners are not required to live in our country, or to incorporate as Philippine company. They only need an interactive gaming licensee and to register as a CEZA enterprise. Jesus Disini, president of the Internet and Society Program of the U.P. college of law, has already warned that CEZA should exercise due diligence in giving out licenses, which may be exploited by unscrupulous entities. He said that CEZA might unwittingly give these companies the legitimacy to operate legally.
Just last month, Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo reported that police raided and arrested some 700 persons, including some expatriates, in their Makati and Quezon City offices. Allegedly, the firms were operating under license from First Cagayan License and Resort Corporation in CEZA (Inquirer 22 Nov. 2013 at A-24).
Last February 2013, the CEZA administrator admitted that he has awarded a “master license” to First Cagayan to operate internet gaming. The master license allows First Cagayan to issue seven-year licenses to foreign entities to operate online gambling. So far, it appears that it has awarded licenses to seven foreign corporations, but it claims that it can issue as many licenses as it wants. The favored corporations pay annual fees of $40,000. Admitting that only the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) has been given the mandate to operate legal gambling in the country, CEZA claims that it gives licenses only to foreign-based corporations.
In brief, CEZA promotes online gambling, or what it calls interactive gaming, which has been described as “a lucrative niche market.” It has partnered with telecommunications companies to offer “high quality, high speed Internet connectivity.” The CEZA administrator has boasted abroad that First Cagayan “offers state-of-the-art Internet data center facilities in Cagayan and also in Manila,” and that there is “direct connectivity to the U.S. and Europe.” (“Online gambling hub sprouts north of PH” by Melvin Calinag, Newsbytes 25 February 2013).
5. King of Martial Law Illegal Logging Empire.
During martial law, the largest logging concession covering 95,770 hectares was awarded to Enrile as owner of San Jose Lumber. His license expired in 2007. His illegal logging operations were reportedly protected by the “Lost Command” headed by renegade then PC Col. Carlos Ledesma, aka Commander Proceso. The logging concession shared a border with Barangay Sag-od, Las Navas town in northern Samar. In September 1981, the Lost Command allegedly figured in the massacre of 45 people.
6. Psychopathic Hypersexualized Serial Womanizer.
On 30 January 1998, the Chicago Tribunereported on Enrile: “The senator, in his early 70s and rumored to be a multimillionaire . . . was a defense minister under Marcos, but helped to bring down the dictator. His wife, Cristina, a socialite, walked out on him this month, after charging adultery. The ‘other woman’ is reported to be Gigi Gonzales-Reyes, chief of staff of his Senate office, and about 30 years his junior.” Cristina was reported as saying “that she no longer could tolerate his chasing after other women, including domestic helpers, cooks, and assistants.” (Emphasis added). This is eyewitness testimony that Enrile is psychopathic and urgently needs treatment for his sex addiction.
In an interview with Enrile on 25 January 2012, the Inquirer said that after Gigi earned her law degree in 1988, she joined the Enrile law firm. At that time, Gigi was married to lawyer Rodolfo “Inky” Reyes. Enrile caused Inky to be appointed to the CEZA, located at the northeastern tip of Luzon mainland, about 620 km. north of Manila. The Reyes couple eventually separated.
At one point in his glittering career as Senate President, Enrile had the audacity to throw a birthday party at a five-star Makati hotel for his concubine, to which he was able to drag President Aquino. Photos of the decadent party were splashed in the front pages of top newspapers. And this libertine pontificates about morality?
To win the so-called Catholic vote, he pretended to be a determined enemy of the reproductive health law. All to naught, because his son, whom he groomed to take over the family’s fabulous financial empire, was convincingly defeated at the last Senate elections, despite reported campaign expenses of P150.797 million – the highest expense of any senatorial candidate.
Gigi, together with Enrile, has been charged with plunder, and has fled abroad. In her absence, the Enrile camp issued a statement that only Gigi, not Enrile, should be accused of plunder.
7. Enrile in 2012 Under-declared Net Worth at only P118 million.
Despite all his posturing, Enrile’s specialty is only tax law. Hence, all his properties are either abroad, in the name of others, or in the name of corporations. In 1975, during martial law, he built a residence in exclusive Dasmariñas Village. Two years later, he built a house in Valle Verde, registered in the name of Jaka Investments Corp., his family firm. In 1985, he built a huge beach house in his prime beachfront property in Natipuan, Nasugbu, Batangas. But in his SALN 2012, belying his wanton lifestyle, including corrupt minions and a private army on his payroll, he declared a net worth of only P118 million. His legal expertise is obviously tax evasion.
Ombudsman Resolution this Month will Decide Truth
Mr. Enrile and I are engaged in an epic battle to reveal the truth to the Filipino people. On my side, I have university students, social media netizens, Metro Manila and Visayan communities, and the crowds in the major shopping malls who instantly gather and urge me to continue the good fight. On his side, he has the corrupt journalists in his payroll, corrupt military officials who constitute his private army, his minions in the customs bureau and the internal revenue bureau, both of which he used to head and consider to be his fiefdoms, as well as key appointive officials in local government and the diplomatic service, who serve as his sycophantic spies. I hope that this clash of titans in the Senate will lead to an Armaggedon in Philippine politics.
By the end of December, the Ombudsman will resolve whether to dismiss the plunder case, or to file a complaint for plunder with the anti-graft court known as Sandiganbayan. If the Ombudsman files the case in court, Mr. Enrile will automatically be suspended from the Senate by order of the Sandiganbayan. During trial, he will likely remain in detention, because he would have no constitutional right to bail, particularly if the court finds that the evidence is strong. If convicted, he will be jailed for 30 years, and his ill-gotten wealth, expected to be in the billions, will be forfeited in favor of the state.
Because he is over 70 years old, he can plead the mitigating circumstance of age, in order to lower the sentence. Also because of his age, he can apply for executive clemency. But it is not true that his advanced age exempts him from criminal liability. He has to pay for his sins, unless he turns state witness and rats on Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, Sen. Bong Revilla, and his other co-accused in the plunder case.
After his poisonous personal attacks against me, Enrile expects that I shall be cowed into silence by his usual bluff and bluster. That is not going to happen. He made no mention at all of the sizzling talk of the town that he is the real mastermind of the pork barrel plunder. Enrile should get real.
In Cagayan, it is said that when he was a baby, his mother dropped him on his head. Now he is the poster boy of stem cell treatment that has long gone past its expiry date. He looks like a female llama surprised in her bath. He reminds me of nothing so much as a dead fish, before it has time to stiffen. If he has the courage, he should switch place with me: He should be funny, and I’ll be the asshole.
For the most apt description of this damaged creature, I quote:
For years I’ve regarded his very existence as a monument to all the rancid genes and broken chromosomes that corrupt the possibilities of (in our case) the Filipino Dream: he was a foul caricature of himself, a man with no soul, no inner convictions, with the integrity of a hyena and the style of a poison toad.
His Charges are 20 Years Old
The Prince of Darkness, having no means of demolishing innocent, law-abiding, God-fearing people like me, has recycled rumors against me that were aired, and which I answered, more than 20 years ago, when I ran for president. Maybe he is suffering from age-appropriate dementia again.
Mr. Dementia tries in his clumsy way to raise suspicions about my mental health. I appear frequently on TV, and I am widely exposed in other media. And yet, despite the repeated innuendoes during election campaigns, the Filipinos have elected and reelected me to the Senate. Most recently, I was elected by the U.N. General Assembly to be a judge of the International Criminal Court. I will be the first Filipino there. I was elected No. 1 judge, a tribute to my country, and the result of a demanding schedule of lectures by me, and questions from the audience, at separate gatherings of U.N. delegates grouped in geographical order. By comparison, Enrile with his eternal philandering and unexplained wealth desperately needs a shrink, as a mental health measure. His mind is sick, sick, sick.
Enrile violated the law, when he tried to pressure my husband, then a customs collector, to release a smuggled Toyota car, forfeited for failure to pay correct customs duties and charges. At that time, the policy of the Bureau of Customs was to forfeit smuggled cars, and to use them as official vehicles for authorized senior staff. My husband was only one of the many staff who earned this privilege by exemplary work, evidenced by annual certificates of commendation issued by the customs commissioner. And yet Enrile zeroed in only on my husband. Enrile kept threatening to oppose my confirmation as agrarian reform secretary, unless my husband released the smuggled car to the smuggler. As a former customs commissioner, Enrile wanted to bend the law for his illegal clients. In time, my husband and other senior staff returned the smuggled cars to the BOC.
I owned and drove a Mercedes when I was a trial judge. Enrile’s charge that I registered the smuggled car in my name in Tarlac is inane, and the product of his febrile imagination. My husband already owned and drove a Ford Mustang sportscar as a senior in law school. This tale of a Toyota is a non-issue.
In his speech, as is his annoying habit, Enrile praised himself by boasting of his alleged martial arts prowess, which he has never displayed. He also boasted of his high grade in the bar exam, with the non sequitur that I had a low grade. In U.P., at that time, many of our professors taught us to devote ourselves to the Socratic method, and pay no attention to the bar, which they belittled. So I paid no attention, particularly since what I wanted to do, contrary to my father’s wishes, was to avail of a rare scholarship to Moscow.
In the United States, the bar exam is considered clerical. Any dean of admission of a top law school ignores any claim by Filipino applicants of achievement in the bar exam, and are surprised when an applicant from the Philippines puts it in his resume. Instead, the criterion of choice is membership in the law journal, which is the acid test of academic excellence in America and Europe.
Enrile demands that I should answer the charges of his attack dog, former Sen. Panfilo Lacson. Mr. Dementia has forgotten that the Senate legal office this year promptly upheld me in a written opinion. The Senate as a matter of policy allows senators to maintain satellite offices in premises owned by the senator. The legal opinion revealed that the amount I charge – P70,000 monthly for 403 square meters on the fourth floor of the office building – is one of the lowest in the Senate.
The other charge is that I own the multipurpose hall of the Rizal provincial government. Together with a few other senators, I gave a modest amount of pork barrel to help fund its construction, undertaken by the Rizal provincial government. This charge is asinine. Lacson, like his mastermind, seems to be approaching dementia, too.
Let me tell you about the real Lacson. As PNP chief, he coveted the post of DILG secretary, which at that time was occupied by Ronaldo Puno. In his overwhelming desire to become interior secretary, Lacson gathered an incriminating file of documents showing that Puno ordered all policemen nationwide to take a drug test – but only with a certain specific laboratory, which turned out to be a small, cheap apartment. The cunning and scheming Lacson gave me the file.
I exposed the corrupt scandal, and engaged in a bitter word war with Puno, who hired a lawyer for the sole purpose of character assassination. During this time of poisonous hostilities mostly fought in media, Lacson hopped on a plane to Hongkong, in order to avoid any suspicion of complicity in the expose. He returned after it was all over, and Puno had been damaged. His cowardly retreat from this proxy battle is a standard joke in gatherings of his classmates at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).
Why is Enrile so close to Lacson? When a Manila Regional Trial Court issued a warrant of arrest against Lacson, he jumped bail and became a fugitive from justice. TV repeatedly showed a footage of Lacson leaving the airport. But many believe that Enrile provided safe haven to Lacson in Cagayan. That is why these two men are so close that it can only be called a relationship with feelings.
This early, Lacson’s propaganda team is already touting him as a presidential candidate for 2016. His credential is that he has been given an administrative job in disaster relief efforts in the Visayas. Malacañang issued the appointment, just to abort the endless stream of his self-serving press releases whenever there was a vacancy in customs, immigration, or even in the non-vacant post of anti-crime czar, already held by the Executive Secretary. His latest caper took his campaign at self-projection to the level of the absurd, when his own press release reported that as a former policeman, he delivered a lecture on constitutional law, as part of Enrile’s effort to shift attention from PDAF to DAP.
Challenge to Public Debate
After this speech, I respectfully decline to yield the floor for interpellation. I rose to answer the personal attack against me, and interpellation will merely serve to waste the time of the Senate. I shall also leave immediately after the speech, because I am ill with chronic fatigue syndrome.
In conclusion, as I did in the past, I challenge Enrile to a public televised debate on the plunder charge against him, including his illegal and immoral use of the Senate President’s discretionary fund to distribute nearly P2 million as Christmas bonus last year to each senator, except for four senators, whom he considers his political enemies, led by me. It should be held at the U.P. Malcolm Theater, and only students with valid ID’s should be allowed, to prevent Enrile from renting a partisan crowd.
The first time I challenged Enrile to a debate, he declined and instead called on Lacson to shower me with near-illiterate insults, including an oxymoron. If this second time Enrile again evades debate, that will be an admission that he is the mastermind of the plunder of some P10 billion of the taxpayers’ money; and that he is insulting me on a personal level, as a diversionary tactic, and as a smokescreen for his criminality.
No matter how devilish his power and no matter how fabulous his ill-gotten wealth, I refuse to be coerced by Enrile! Justice should be done, though the heavens fall. I am fortified by my faith. According to the poet:
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible
His truth is marching on.
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