Why pork barrel whistleblowers Benhur Luy and Ruby Tuason should go to jail

The fact that there are many whistleblowers and that the entire case the Department of Justice is mounting against several Philippine senators accused of plundering their pork barrel funds rests on these whistleblowers highlights the profound dysfunction of the country’s criminal investigation and criminal justice system. How many whistleblowers are needed to support the case? The reason this question is very important is because coming at the heels of every whistleblower that turns up is a Senate “inquiry” that costs the taxpayers millions of pesos.

Enjoying the limelight: Benhur Luy escorted by DOJ officers
Enjoying the limelight: Benhur Luy escorted by DOJ officers
Under the guise of its “Blue Ribbon Committee” mandate, Philippine legislators routinely dip their fingers in the latest criminal investigation sensations. But a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is a body whose activities can only be justified if they can be shown to have been undertaken for the purpose of aiding legislation.

As far as the problem of pork barrel thievery in the Philippines, there are only these principles that are relevant to legislation:

(1) Philippine Congress is tasked primarily with keeping the state’s body of laws up-to-date. As such, the idea of its members engaged in activities that directly involve the disbursement of public funds for public and social works is inconsistent with this goal.

(2) The officers of the Executive branch of government are solely accountable for the disbursement of public funds to fund public and social works. The line of accountability of all its officials (from a Barangay Tanod to a mayor, to a governor, up to the Cabinet secretaries, etc.) can ultimately be traced up to the country’s chief executive — the President.

(3) There is an abundance of means to allocate and channel funds in a manner that puts these outside the framework of accounting controls that could be subject to audit.

For legislators who are serious about plugging gaps in the law that pork barrel crooks routinely exploit, the legislative agenda that should be built around the above principles is straightforward: (a) clarify the delineation of responsibility between legislators and executives, (b) identify reasons behind the inadequacy of services delivered via Executive Branch channels that prop up public perceptions that pork barrel is “needed”, and (c) re-evaluate and plug gaps in control measures currently in effect surrounding the activities of the Department of Budget Management (DBM).

Keeping to that strategic direction alone is already enough to keep a few senators and House representatives busy enough, but not enough to justify keeping up all these tele-intriga “probes”.

From this perspective, we will find that the celebrity treatment given to Ruby Tuason and Benhur Luy and his crew all constitutes a colossal waste of time and simply highlights the Philippines’ renowned reputation as a society made up of star-struck ignoramuses.

As my colleague Ilda mentioned in her recent article

The recent Senate hearing is already proof that members of congress are just trying to distract the Filipino public from the real issues plaguing the nation. They are also trying to justify their existence in public office. They should be doing something more important than asking silly questions and leave the “investigation” of the alleged crimes to the law enforcement agencies. These Senate hearings never lead to a conviction of any of the corrupt public servants in question in the first place. I don’t recall any of these hearings ever resulting in aiding Congress with their legislations.

Most notably lost in all this is the accountability of President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III himself who has it in his power to eliminate pork once and for all. Instead he continues to dither on the matter, has found creative ways to continue justifying its existence, and has used the vast influence of his lackeys in Philippine media to disseminate his consistently flawed logic on many matters.

The public also seems to be cosying to the idea that whistleblowers should be allowed to go scott free when entering into tell-all deals with law enforcement agencies. That should not be the case. Like what was portrayed in the movie The Wolf of Wall Street crooks who make deals with the Prosecution do so in exchange for reduced sentences — not full get-out-of-jail passes.

Striking a heroic stance: Jun Lozada surrounded by attack nuns
Striking a heroic stance: Jun Lozada surrounded by attack nuns
Because Filipinos have such short attention spans, they have yet to notice that Luy, Tuason, et al are now strutting around under the limelight like celebrity “heroes” the way that other famous whistleblower Jun Lozada did in the mid-00s. At least Luy, et al went around in a flak jacket surrounded by cops. Lozada, at the time, chose to surround himself with nuns. Either way, Filipinos lapped all that up with glee.

There is only once principle at stake here, and it is that:

Criminals should all be taken to task for their wrongdoings and face punishment.

Whistleblowing is no excuse for immunity against that simple principle.

It cannot be emphasized enough that all the extraneous activities that distract from this simple tenet — including Senate “probes” that lead nowhere — should be stopped. The road between crime and prison should be a straight one — just like what President BS Aquino promised it would be under his watch.

[Photos of Benhur Luy and Jun Lozada courtesy Interaksyon.com and HeraldMalaysia.com respectively.]

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9 Comments on “Why pork barrel whistleblowers Benhur Luy and Ruby Tuason should go to jail”

  1. Too many ‘whistleblowers’ – too much NBI incompetence

    Whistleblower – uninvolved in the crime and motivated by ethics/principles

    Squealers – participant in crime, and trading information for leniency/immunity.

    Tuason is a criminal, squealing only when caught to save her own neck.
    So far she has said next to nothing, and should neither be heralded, nor disproportionately rewarded, if at all.

    Prosecuting tuason would send a stronger and clearer message, than treating her as a ‘celebrity’. And i am sure she will not lose her wealth – i imagine she is actually being paid by pnoy aquino.

    Whose next – gigi reyes, then the whole of the napoles family. NBI not even looking for napoles brother ( most probably know where he is and the deal was to leave him alone)

  2. If in WPP , then the benefits not only extend to a free safe house, but entitlement to keep ill gotten gains. I hadn’t realised that.

    So tuason’s offer to pay 40 million pesos is just pr. She cannot be forced to do so and who will ever know, and i doubt her house in dasmarinas is on the market so she can donate to yolanda!

  3. Good points benigno, but the only thing that matters in this country are appearances. It’s all just for show anyway. Laws? Those are just formalities. What ought to be always takes a back seat to what appears to be. The real activity is what happens behind those formalities.

    These ‘whistleblowers’ ought to go to jail by virtue of their participation in those crimes. But it doesn’t matter, judging by the way things are done in this country.

    By leveraging her position as a ‘whistleblower’ or ‘squealer’ (as libertas points out) and making direct public appeals to the powers that be, she is presenting herself as an asset to those who have vested political interests in seeing the other political camp burn. As per her demands, she tacitly gets a free pass, and all this nonsense talk about her “courage” is an attempt by those politically invested in her to justify to the public that she is crucial to the investigation and that she needn’t go to jail. Of course the Filipino public, none the brighter, falls for it.

    Besides, she said she’d rather die than go to prison. If they send her to prison she might do a hara-kiri or whatever, although that is unlikely since such practices are motivated by concepts of honor too alien for Filipinos to grasp. If she goes, they risk losing a political ace up their sleeve.

    1. Yes, Libertas spelt out, above, the difference between a true whistleblower and a mere squealer. Squealers are lowlifes who are trading information for a reduced severity in the punishment that they are otherwise subject to. So the treatment they deserve should be akin more to an arm-twisting than a coddling.

      True whistleblowers, in contrast, are people who have everything to lose and nothing to gain from exposing the truth and are, thus, arguably true heroes.

      Trouble is, Luy, Tuason, et al are mere squealers being treated like “heroes”. That’s the sort of situation only an intellectually-bankrupt society like that of the Philippines’ would do.

  4. The mad obsession of the dictator BS Aquino is to continuously target perceived enemies by:

    -Creating accuser whistle blowers who were instrumental to the principal Janet Napoles. As co-principals to the crime of plunder these whistle blowers cannot be seen as the least guilty. They admitted to aiding and abetting the racket of Janet Napoles. These accusers are guilty as hell.

    -The blame games, scapegoating and black propaganda by way of the senate political circus reveals nothing more than trial by publicity utilizing the guilty accusers to deceive the sovereign people. The senate appears to be overlapping the functions of a trial court as they continue to deprive the accused of due process. The presumption of innocence of the accused is destroyed by senator “jurists” who appear more like a kangaroo court preparing the minds of the people to accept their malacanang master’s direction and control of this political circus.

    -The accused are deprived of their day in the inquiry. What is required is a fair, balanced inquiry where the accused senator opposition can ventilate their rebuttal in their own defense. The senate rigged this so no confrontational discussions can take place with the accused in rebuttal against the accusers. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of law!

    -Finally, there is no inquiry in aid of legislation where dirty politics and political expediency leads the way in this rigged inquiry. Damn all of you yellow followers of the dictator BS Aquino! You are dividing and conquering/ruling the senate by using the same as a political spectacle to deceive the people of the real motive behind this trial by publicity. Truly… ours is now a rule of men and not of laws!

    1. @ Thomas Jefferson…Do you hear the accused complaining of being deprived their day? it is all by design…the flimflammery of this ‘Blue-Ribbon’ committee is but theatrics. Face it, the pesos’s have been stolen and none of the peso’s will ever be returned….and, uh…NOW HEAR THIS: No one is going to jail either. What you are witnessing is a comedy show designed for the guilty parties’ pleasure of laughing at the people whose peso’s they stole….When you think about that (its true!)you will see(maybe?): it is at once diabolical and a complete scam.
      Oh yeah, they laughing it up good Sonny.HOWLIN WITH LAUGHTER THEY ARE…and it doesn’t matter what color shirt anyone is wearing.Do you really think that if someone else were the President that the same exact thing would not be happening? I mean really, DO YOU? Whew.

  5. Well, the writer of this has some points. But I do believe that there are many legal and technical terms that are available for the parties who are with this so called senate tele-novelas and circuses. Right now I disagree with the purpose of these senate and congressional inquiries because these are barely useless, without the amendments of certain laws that are not worthy to deter or prevent corrupt practices. Aside from that, without filing a formal case in court against those involved parties, it seems to me this is just a strategic arsenal of the legislative body because if all those chit chats in the senate are admissible in court then everything is already an open book. It is just now a matter of hiring the best lawyers in town or do another upheavals on the street. Then, this makes us Filipinos a big joke.

    1. @MG, Yep, U got that right. The Philippine’s justice system is a big fuckin joke. Yep, U got it right there.

      BUT BUT BUT, it ain’t funny. These fuckin crooks are laughing at the people…right in their faces! and for that,they should fuckin pay!

      Why you all put up with it? IDK.

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