“Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.” Mahatma Gandhi
By Alex P. Vidal
The recent admission of former Iloilo first district congressman Oscar “Oca” Garin that almost all members of the House of Representatives “are not saints” (and that included him, he said) and could have misused their “pork barrel” allocations, is a slap on the faces of solons–past and present–implicated in the scam, who have sworn to high heavens they were innocent and clean as Caesar’s wife.
Garin became the first former solon in the country who bravely admitted not all allocations of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) really went to their intended beneficiaries.
In a criminal case, there is a principle that the act of one is the act of all. A participant in crime can turn state witness if he is willing to tell the truth in a proper investigation.
Garin’s revelation came in the heels of Commission on Audit (COA) chair Grace Pulido Tan’s confirmation that the audit report they released showing the apparent misuse of PDAF allocations to senators and congressmen amounting to an estimated P10 billion that went mostly to bogus NGOs, was only “the tip of the iceberg.”
Political experts said “more heads will roll” down to to the local government units (LGUs) once the COA report has been completed. In other words, more horrifying scams involving rascals in government will be unearthed.
The Office of the Ombudsman, which recently recieved the formal complaints of plunder filed by the Department of Justice against senators Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revill, Juan Ponce Enrile, and several others, can invite Garin, who had served briefly as Philippine Coconut Autority (PCA) chief under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to share what he knows and where the bodies are buried. Garin had served as congressman for three terms.
Either Garin wanted to convey a message that he is not hypocrite- just in case his name will be mentioned in a COA report (the audit covers projects implemented using “pork” funds in the last 10 years) –or he is interested to help the Pinoy administration in its much-ballyhooed slogan of “tuwid na daan” (straight path).
Garin’s firing salvo, however, caught some of his colleagues in the past congress off-guarded. Many of them for sure are also “not saints” (to borrow Garin’s words) and have been mum since the “pork” scandal erupted; they, too, may also be waiting with bated breath for COA’s final report.
Despite Garin’s seemingly shocking disclosure of the kind of culture some lawmakers adhered to in as far as “pork barrel” funds were concerned, most of the thieves in Congress will never admit their crime. Already caught red-handed with their hands in the cookie jar, some of them managed to throw a fish story that their signatures had been forged. But COA and the Office of the Ombudsman are not born yesterday to swallow their alibi hook, line and sinker.
Incidentally, only Garin and former Gov. Niel D. Tupas, the two other Liberal Party (LP) behemoths in Iloilo allied with President Nonoy Aquino, have not issued a public statement in defense of their leader, Senate President Frank Drilon, who is now mired in a “pork barrel” quicksand known as Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), and in multiple graft cases filed simultaneously by former provincial administrator Manuel “Boy M” Mejorada and former TESDA director general Augusto “Buboy” Syjuco.
Gov. Art Defensor and Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog have issued strong statements of support for Drilon, who is guest speaker of the 1st National Grand Alumni Assembly of Sigma Rho fraternity in Iloilo City on October 28.