Napoles says 'mastermind' in scam has left PH

Posted at 09/01/2013 4:58 PM | Updated as of 09/01/2013 5:04 PM

Napoles intimated 'mastermind' in scam to analyst

MANILA -- Businesswoman Janet Napoles has intimated to political analysts and columnists Randy David and Winnie Monsod that the supposed mastermind in the pork scam has fled the country.

In his column “Public Lives,” David said Napoles took him and Monsod aside during a meeting with the Philippine Daily Inquirer editorial team a few weeks back and told them she was not the mastermind.

Napoles supposedly told both columnists that the “real brains” has already “hurriedly fled the country.”

“When we asked who this person was, Napoles whispered something to Winnie, but not to me. To this day I’m still wondering who this big fish might be, if there was any,” David wrote in his column which appeared on Sunday.

The debate rages on as to Napoles’ role in the whole scam and whether there was someone – perhaps a public official – who was behind everything. Napoles allegedly used bogus nongovernment organizations to siphon the priority development assistance funds of lawmakers.

Napoles’ surrender to President Benigno Aquino III has set criticisms and insinuations that Napoles could be made state witness, if indeed there is a mastermind to it all.

David wrote: “There may or may not be a real mastermind, but, until the evidence is all in, can we really say Napoles is the most guilty? Certainly, compared to the members of her staff who have turned whistle-blowers, she seems to be the guiltiest. But, whether or not there was a mastermind above Napoles, the fact that the pork barrel funds in question could not have been released without the consent and knowledge of senators and congressmen must give us pause about allocating guilt so quickly.”

He believes there was indeed betrayal of public trust. “It was not to Napoles, a private individual, that we gave this trust. It was to our public officials that we did—the lawmakers who cornered lump sum allocations and the heads of agencies who were supposed to oversee the implementation and auditing of PDAF-funded projects,” he said.

David explained he did not put malice in Aquino’s act in securing Napoles. He understands, however, the public opinion towards the Palace’s role in all these.

“The implicit trust previously conferred on him as a crusading leader against corruption is giving way to a more guarded and exacting attitude toward his government. I am almost certain that this change in public perception resulted from his speaking too soon about the positive uses of the Priority Development Assistance Fund,” he said.

But if Napoles really has something to say, David said: “I think it would be cathartic, and ultimately healing, for the nation to listen to her confession on how she connived with public officials in various branches of government to steal billions in taxpayers’ money over a period of at least 10 years.”