That Janet Lim Napoles is now in custody is a direct result of strong public pressure and the Million People March in Luneta and across the country. Had we not marched and told #PNoink that we want heads and pig heads to roll, nothing would have happened.
#PNoink treatment for Napoles
The surrender of Napoles to #PNoink himself and right inside Malacanang was an obvious scripted event aimed at portraying the President
as a man of action and true to his word. But the reverse happened. The people were shocked that Napoles found a way to the most powerful and busiest leader of the country and in the whole process evade a manhunt against her. That #PNoink met her cheapened the presidency and put the President right in the middle of the controversy.
And for this, we have to thank the spin doctors of the Palace and the Yellow Army. Their lust to grab and massage the messaging to make the President look cool only boomeranged on him and Mar Roxas, the putative Liberal Party presidential candidate (yet again). The fantastic and ridiculous script that #PNoink met with surrendering Napoles at Malacanang and her turnover to Roxas, the interior secretary, had all the hallmarks of the worst opportunism endemic to pigs of the traditional political system in this country.
This presidential reception, which we should call the #PNoink treatment, is bad in the long run. It sends a signal to the officials involved in the investigation and prosecution that Napoles could easily find a line to the President. Special treatment, especially coming from the President himself and displayed right from Malacanang, is all the “chapa” one needs to get away with almost everything.
Only two good things come out from this spectacle
First, now that Napoles is in custody, she could be prosecuted with the full force of the law and it could only happen if we all remain watchful and vigilant. Napoles is now only charged with serious illegal detention of the whistleblower. She has yet to be charged directly in connection with the billions of pesos in pork barrel she and her cohorts in the House and Senate funneled through fake NGOs. We must demand from #PNoink, as head of the Executive Department, to do everything humanly possible to quickly and competently file the charges against Napoles and each and every lawmaker found to be liable for violation of the law. Each day that passes without Napoles and her coterie of padrino senators and congressmen are not charged is a day of victory for pork barrel.
Second, thanks to this appearance with Napoles, we are all reminded of #PNoink’s own trillion pesos in pork barrel. Hidden under all sorts of names, this huge, discretionarybfund should be disclosed and returned to the main budget for allotment to national concerns like education. We must be firm on this if we want pork barrel to be abolished: The President must give up his own pork barrel, nothing less.
I foresee and expect the next Million People March to happen soon, as we all want things to move faster and without any room for maneuver for #PNoink and other lovers of pork barrel.
The spectacle of the #PNoink treatment of Napoles is symbolic of how the trapo system would be very clever and very organized in stopping out movement for good governance and against pork barrel. And so we must be more clever and more organized. The next marches should be a product of closer and more open coordination among individual volunteers, schools, and organizations that have worked together in the past.
We must give organizations a voice in this movement as a matter of principle and justice. Napoles et al put all NGOs in a bad light. Genuine NGOs have a stake in having Napoles, lawmakers and fake NGOs prosecuted so they could continue serving people, unmolested by unfair charges that they are no different from the pork lovers.
Lowering the bar
The worst thing that could happen is for us to lower our bar. Napoles being in custody is just a step forward. The following have yet to happen: The prosecution of Napoles and her cohorts in Congress for pork-related corruption; the President giving up his P1-trillion in his own pork barrel and the abolition of the pork barrel system.
The lovers of pork will do everything to keep their hands inside the treasury and to keep their billions upon billions of discretionary fund. As we have seen in Napoles’ case, they could get presidential special treatment that easy.
Fighting and defeating them may take more than a picnic in Luneta and other public parks or a spectacle called the #PNoink treatment in Malacanang.