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Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Question For Our Senators

Have you ever heard of the term "conflict of interest"?

I ask this because I have not heard of anyone bringing this up publicly, in light of what is about to transpire on November 7: alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles is set to appear before the Senate to answer your questions, and the unsaid objective is that you will be able to get to the bottom of this elaborate scheme after subjecting her to your collective scrutiny.

(Courtesy of

No one is mentioning a glaring fact: aren't the legislators supposedly involved in this scam the ones who are truly on trial?

The Commission on Audit report already makes mention of at least three senators and other representatives from the Lower House who have unsettled, questionable or dubious ways of managing their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), lovingly called pork barrel by everyone in the country.

Using that frame of reference, we can liken the legislators as the accused in any court case. So I harken back to my first question, in a more detailed manner:

Isn't there a clear conflict of interest, in the matter of senators questioning Napoles?

Would our justice system allow the accused in any other criminal case do the cross examination of a vital witness? In what universe - or at least the universe of democracies with a corresponding justice system - does the one charged with an offense or a crime be the one to test that an eyewitness account can be considered valid/reliable?

When the whistleblowers first appeared in the Senate, and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada made a calculated gesture of appearing as well but announcing at the start of the session that he was inhibiting himself, and excusing himself while all cameras were focused there, the only question I had racing in my mind was, shouldn't ALL legislators be inhibiting themselves, given that THEY are the ones we want to be held accountable?

Our money was entrusted to these legislators, and the best responses they can give us are:

- my signature was forged!
- it's not my job to check where I allocate my funds!
- I only allocated so-and-so, why are you all raising hell?

The distrust and anger we collectively feel is heightened by the fact that it is OUR REPRESENTATIVES - supposedly the ones we elected for our interests - involved in this maze of anomalous transactions.

Which part of "it's not your money, it's ours!" is particularly difficult to understand? Is that the reason why these legislators have such a cavalier attitude towards how money that was placed at their disposal be spent?

And when we find senators whose net worth have increased dramatically over the same period, can you stop us from having the gravest of doubts of how that could have occurred?

As a public official once put it (and I'm paraphrasing), no one gets rich by entering public service, and if you do amass wealth while serving, you are doing something wrong.

We haven't even begun the question of impartiality: how can the senators be neutral when they - some of them, anyway - are already crying foul at how the COA report has already painted them as far as public perception goes, even going so far as shedding copious tears on TV? (I guess it's hard to take the acting hat off for some.)

So the question really needs to be asked of our senators:

Why are you - the ones we citizens are demanding an accounting of public funds we entrusted to you - also the ones about to "grill" alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles come November 7?

Wouldn't this be another monumental waste of time, money and effort, in a clear case of conflict of interest?

Or is this just a showcase for some of you with 2016 ambitions?

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