Demand for disclosure of ‘Napoles’s List’: Is the #ScrapPork Network a serious activist movement?

The clamor to have a document containing a list of members of Congress who allegedly had dealings with accused pork barrel scam ringleader Janet Lim-Napoles is growing louder, fueled by indignation mongering drummed up by both traditional and social media. Leading the charge is a certain “Scrap Pork Network” (or just #ScrapPork), a coalition of various activist groups that reportedly includes “Angkop (Aksyong Kabayanihan para sa Organisadong Pagbabago), Bagac Bagong Mukha, AkapBayan (Alyansa ng Kabataan Pilipino para sa Bayan), Juana Change Movement, Sunken Garden United, Project Nameless, Peace Church, Whistleblower’s Association, Institute for Freedom of Information and individuals like Carlos Celdran, Rafael Alunan III, Fr. Robert Reyes, Butch Garcia, among others.”

So far, #ScrapPork Network is pretty much the only “civil society” group making any waves of consequence as they have been recently cited in reports in the Philippines’ Big Three traditional media outlets, ABS-CBN, GMA Network, and the The key artefact around which these reports were fielded is a letter released by the group addressed to Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima demanding “full-disclosure” of the contents of the puported list.

“The people are clamoring for transparency and accountability. The people are hungry for justice… Madam Secretary, as a public servant of the Filipino people, we enjoin you to make available any and all information which Mrs. Napoles relayed to you in relation to the PDAF scam,” the letter read.

It certainly sounds serious. One would wonder though whether a bunch of “activists” publishing photos of themselves sporting Kardashianian duckfaces can really be taken seriously…

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scrappork_duckfaces columnist Randy David today weighed in on the issue of whether the thinking behind the calls to release this purported list of tainted members of Congress is sound. David frames his assessment on the premise that, really, when a crime has been reported and suspects identified, it is normally up to the justice system alone, left to its devices, to work through due process. David observes that in the Philippines, where politics trumps thinking, this has never been the case in most instances…

If we step back and view this practice from a distance, we will find that it is, ironically, the political system itself—with the mass media—that is preventing the legal system from quietly doing its work. Notice how typically, in nearly every celebrated case, at least three forms of inquiry are going on at the same time, sharing witnesses and asking the same questions: first, a talk show or press conference, followed by a congressional investigation, and finally, the least exciting one, a formal hearing in a prosecutor’s office or a courtroom. Without exception, the political overrides the legal. Need we still ask what has been the root cause of our societal dysfunctions?

Interestingly, David points out that those who stand to gain the most from all the noise surrounding this issue could be top suspects Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla…

At this point, who stands to gain most from the publication of a long list of pork barrel scammers? Certainly not the justice system, which is already choking with the cases that were filed soon after the first incriminating disclosures were made by the former Napoles employee Benhur Luy and his fellow whistle-blowers. Definitely, the ones who stand to gain the most are the big fish who have been breathing laboriously because their gills are wedged in the law’s net.

It is they who seek to sow doubt in the public discourse: If a majority of our legislators, past and present, have been clients of Napoles, can the practice of receiving pork barrel kickback be so morally reprehensible? If almost every politician in the country has been doing it, would it still be a crime? Is it the act itself that is being punished, or is it the political affiliation of the perpetrator?

Normally you’d think that all this is just a straightforward legal exercise. There is a clearly-articulated law, an act deemed criminal in the context of that law, and evidence that conclusively points to certain people. Then there is the Napoles List. Secretary De Lima asserts that the information contained in the list has yet to be verified. The demand for full disclosure espoused by the #ScrapPork Network revolves around a need to “enable citizens to independently inquire into and verify what funds and projects were involved, and who among our public officials may have been involved…” The group invokes the citizens’ constitutional right to information stipulated in Article III Section 7 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which reads…

The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.

The question therefore is:

Is the Napoles List an official government record or document that pertains to an official act, a government transaction/decision, or a form of input into research used for policy develoment?

If the answer to the above is a “Yes”, then certainly, Secretary De Lima would be obliged to release the document for public consumption.

My feeling is that the Napoles List does not fit the above criteria. It is a piece of evidence gathered in the course of an on-going criminal investigation and, as such, subject to full jurisdiction of the investigating bodies who are its custodians.

The argument that the public have a right to be privy to evidence used in this case would fly if this exercise were political in nature. But, unlike the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, this is not a procedure being facilitated by a political body. It is being undertaken within the framework of a system owned by the Judiciary.

[Photo courtesy]

15 Replies to “Demand for disclosure of ‘Napoles’s List’: Is the #ScrapPork Network a serious activist movement?”

  1. correction, DOJ is under the executive branch not judiciary and the whole criminal investigation system is under executive department.

  2. It is irony and the result of demonizing the earlier three accused senators. Now people want more blood and they will get it one way or another.

    A lose-lose situation for Pnoy’s administration: damned if they show the list, since its speculated lots of them are allies or show the sanitized one where Ping or Sandra are just waiting to go in for the kill.

  3. The rotten smell of this whole affair is too much to handle for many people. The names contained in the list are probably also covered by the stench of “yellow” urine, so the administration is afraid of public unrest. But is this not what they might get in the end if they don’t ventilate the trash can soon? Remember what happened last time when they did not want to open the envelope? Could something like that happen again? I sure hope, but as things look like at the moment, people care more for the latest smartphone and mermaids on TV than about the thieving scumbags in Senate and Congress; And the ones that care do look ridiculous as brilliantly pointed out in the article by benign0. I for one would love to see hundreds of thousands of people surrounding the Senate and demanding that ALL the slime suckers there pack up their crap and vacate the building. Does it take the voice of God, or someone who claims to hear his voice, to make people move their stupid asses? Well, it would not be the first time, right? Where is the Church (of any religion) now? Oh, they have to cover their own asses. Literally speaking. Those cocksuckers are just as corrupt as politicians.

  4. It looks like the media circus will not matter. The people who stand to gain most,WILL. They have nothing to fear, especially going to jail or losing their wealth.
    A failed criminal justice system + a failing economy + systemic institutionalized corruption= A FAILED STATE.

    The country is just as fucked as fucked gets. it is as though the people are so continuously confused that their confusion is exploitated by the media to the point there is no chance of anything resembling justice. Just more of the same failures from the failed state.

    The country is just fucked 365 ways to new years’ day.

  5. “The end justifies the means”…they usually say. Aquino has his Blame Game. Now, he and his propaganda strategists moved to the: Guessing Game…with De Lima and her Driver-Lover in tow…it is now a circus…Of all those groups; nobody has raised any voice to the : mentally retarded Aquino – the source and root cause of all this corruption.

    Aquino’s YellowTard Media are now working overtime to cover the political circus…while the Glaring Stupidities and Mistakes of Aquino are being covered up…by these events…

  6. Where is this ‘list’? Exactly who has it? and why does anyone believe what is on it?
    Does it purport to PROVE that people took money? If so,HOW?
    Anyone can accuse a person of wrong-doings but proving it is another. Are there cancelled checks? Bank deposits disproportionate to the person’s income?
    Trial by media is the darling of the guilty inthe Philippines, as it prevents any further proceedings…brilliant.Just brilliant.

    1. They are all guilty somehow. NO ONE in Philippine politics is innocent (till proven guilty). They are guilty till proven innocent.

  7. you are starting to sound more and more “yellow” for each new posting.

    now you’re even rationalizing De Lima’s actions.

    seriously? lol

    have you bitten the gold bug or has the gold bug bitten you?

    1. Whats the point of releasing a list thats been produced by the co-conspirator of this whole shebang. Name and shame without proof? Media frenzy that leads to nowhere? A get out of jail card for Napoles?

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