Drama in real life

Janet NapolesWaking up at 2:30 a.m. and not being able to go back to sleep can bring a bonus. It gives you a head start over many people on the big news of the day. True enough, my Facebook wall was flooded with news that Janet Lim Napoles had surrendered to President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III at 9:37 p.m. last night. The President accompanied Napoles to Camp Crame where Napoles was booked for detention. Of course, DILG Secretary Mar Roxas was there to face the cameras and field questions. it was a busy night for the President and his favorite Cabinet member.

The “surrender” of Napoles came just hours after Pres. Aquino announced a bounty of P10 million for information that will lead to her arrest. Citing fears for her life, Atty. Lorna Kapunan said her client decided to yield directly to the President. A manhunt that began on Aug. 14 came to an end. The script writer just failed to annotate: “loud cheers!”

This is pure b.s. I can smell a dead rat in the whole episode. With the public outcry over the pork barrel scam breaching the top of the decibel meter, the President knew he needed something dramatic to turn the situation around. The mood of the people is no longer pleasant. It is angry, and the anger is threatening to turn against him. P-Noy needed a life preserver to placate the people.

The offer of the P10-millon reward was the give-away. Napoles isn’t charged before any court for alleged involvement in those pork barrel scams. The warrant for her arrest was for the charge of illegal detention filed by whistle blower Benhur Luy. There are many other people charged for more heinous crimes who are still at large, with no reward money offered for their capture. It was a ploy to make the President look good. He had to appear responsible for bringing Napoles to face justice.

This presidential drama that took along Mar Roxas as a major character reveals the kind of thinking in Malacanang. There’s a constant search for schemes to deflect the public anger toward pork barrel. The President’s attempt to subvert last Monday’s anti-pork rally fell short of its objective. Sensing that his own political survival was now being threatened, the President had to drop the big ax. Napoles had to be sacrificed.

Cadio’s letter

Pavia mayor Arcadio Gorriceta likes to think of himself as “Mr. Clean.” He constantly talks of honesty and integrity in government. He puts up billboards condemning corruption. If clean governance can have a poster boy, Gorriceta will rush forward to grab the role. And, lately, he has embraced the duty to advise the Aquino administration, through a presidential sister, on quality of people to be appointed to key positions.

This came to light a few days ago after I obtained a draft letter addressed to Ms. Ballsy Aquino-Cruz to recommend a well-known businesswoman, Teresa Chan, to the position of Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas. The signature line on the letter showed the name of Gorriceta. Its authenticity would have been doubtful if only I didn’t recognize the handwriting of Gorriceta on several portions of the document.

What’s wrong with Gorriceta writing a letter of recommendation to the President’s sister? If it were just that, I wouldn’t have complained. But the letter contained a pernicious and malicious lie to disparage the image of the entire Tupas family. The intention to malign the Tupases was glaring, and I felt this had to be exposed.

The lie was the newspaper clipping that he attached to the “Dear Ballsy” letter. It was a planted op-ed article under a fictitious name, Romeo Cabaluna, that appeared on July 21, 2010, a day before Gorriceta sent the purloined letter. Both article and letter were written by one and the same person, Jose Nereo C. Lujan. Don’t ask me how I know. I just know. The article was an false indictment against the administration of Tupas, something that Lujan has been writing about for quite sometime. With the article clipped to the “Dear Ballsy” letter, Gorriceta wanted to poison the mind of Ms. Aquino-Cruz, and perhaps goad her into blocking any appointments for the Tupas clan.

Gorriceta makes the mistake of thinking ordinary mortals are incapable of seeing through his schemes. But one doesn’t need an IQ of 140 to figure out the scam. How else can Gorriceta destroy the reputation of the Tupases than presenting an “opinion” piece from a newspaper to validate his point? Manufacture the evidence, it’s that simple! Which is exactly what he did. The article comes out along with the draft letter for his approval.

Has anybody heard of a Romeo Cabaluna writing for The Daily Guardian aside from this July 21 op-ed piece? It was a one-time performance. And even if this guy was who he said he was, how can Gorriceta say that the opinion of one writer reflect the true public image of former Governor Tupas? He even picked the wrong platform: The Daily Guardian is closely linked to Rep. Ferjenel Biron, bitter political rival of Tupas in the last elections. The bias of the paper becomes apparent.

Anyway, the treacherous ploy isn’t likely to work. President Noynoy Aquino is not about to let a schoolboy’s prank to cloud his judgment of a political leader he highly esteems. Governor Tupas is an original Liberal Party member who had fought political battles with the late national hero, Ninoy Aquino. The President knows how hard Tupas had worked to bring about his victory in Iloilo province, where rival Manny Villar had initially led in the surveys. He is so unlike Gorriceta who switched to the LP when he was rejected by Villar, under whose party he tried to push his way in.

Let’s turn our attention to Gorriceta who, by the way, confessed to authorship of the letter over Bombo Radyo. Hence, the authenticity of the document is established.

Is he the “Mr. Clean” that he projects himself to be? Is he the poster boy for clean and honest government?

The stink that emanates from the long list of anomalies associated with Gorriceta provides a clear answer to the questions. NO!

  • Gorriceta is a self-confessed bribe taker. In 2004, he accepted a check from Boboy Syjuco for P450,000 as “commission” for allowing the Pavia LGU to serve as conduit in the laundering of a P5-million government fund to the Tagipusuon Foundation. Despite the glaring discrepancies in the paperwork, Gorriceta approved the full release of the entire fund to the foundation, thereby becoming an accomplice to the crime.
  • Gorriceta implemented, without a valid bidding, the P12-million asphalting project in Pavia, Iloilo in 2007 which turned out to be severely substandard. The asphalt was damaged only a few months after it was laid because its thickness was much, much less than was specified. When the floods brought by Typhoon Frank hit Pavia, the remainder of the damaged asphalt was swept away. This project was given special mention during a Senate investigation conducted by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago last year.
  • Gorriceta cornered the bulk of the earth material excavated from the flood control project and used it to backfill several properties he owned. As a result, the value of his properties went up greatly, while constituents who desired to get a few truck loads were greatly disappointed.
  • COA chided Gorriceta several times for spending public funds to print calendars that displayed his photograph. He also spent government money for stickers on notebooks given to school children. This is considered inappropriate expenditure of public funds. On top of this, many other expenditures of the LGU were thumbed down by COA for being illegal.
  • While he was still a director of PanayFed, an organization of sugar planters in Iloilo province, Gorriceta was caught to have taken away about a million pesos from its coffers, without authority. At first, he denied it. But then, receipts were produced, some of which were signed by his wife, showing that the money was indeed in his custody. He repaid the money in installments.

The list could go on and on. My objective isn’t to indict Gorriceta. It’s just to show he isn’t what he claims to be. In fact, he could be worse than Boboy Syjuco. He should stop pretending to be somebody he isn’t.