“I really don’t despise anyone. But there is a list of a half dozen people I would prefer never to hear from or see again.” Graydon Carter
By Alex P. Vidal
We are relieved that five former Iloilo congressmen were not among the 108 solons included in the infamous “Napolist” revealed to public recently by Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III.
They are now Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. (third district), Engr. Oscar “Oca” Garin (first district), Neil Tupas Sr. (fifth district), Albertito Lopez (second district), and Dr. Ferjenel “Ferj” Biron (fourth district).
Even when he was a member of the Batasang Pambansa during the Marcos years, Gov. Defensor Sr. was never implicated in any anomaly. He has been commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), a post entrusted to him by the late former President Corazon Aquino after the EDSA Revolution, but the son of Mina, Iloilo was never tainted even after three presidents that followed Mrs. Aquino – FVR, Erap, Gloria. We expect the junior Defensor to follow the footsteps of the illustrious father.
We are relieved because not all Ilonggo leaders are crooks. In fact, there are more honest and dedicated public servants in Western Visayas than those whose names are regular entries in the Office of the Ombudsman. Despite the skullduggery committed by a lot of politicians in the national level, Ilonggo leaders still continue to stand ten feet tall.
We are sad though that even the late Rep. Narciso “Narcing” Monfort (fourth district) and Atty. Rolex Suplico (fifth district) were included in the scandalous list. By being included in the list though does not make Monfort and Suplico guilty like the scam artists in the Manila film festival. Monfort was hitherto the richest congressman in the country – before Rep. Imelda R. Marcos, former congresswoman and now Senator Cynthia Villar and Manny Pacquiao claimed the honor.
If we stretch back the list of Iloilo congressmen who served after the EDSA Revolution or those active members of the House of Representa-THIEVES before Janet Lim-Napoles romped off with her pork barrel operation, we have Rafael Lopez-Vito (Iloilo City), Necitas Panes (fourth district) and Board Member Licurgo Tirador (third district). They may not be covered anymore by the scandal in as far as “Napolist” is concerned.
Emily Lopez, who served as governor and congresswoman in Guimaras Island, escaped Napolist’s ax but not her protégé, Edgar Espinosa, predecessor of incumbent Rep. JC Rahman Nava.
Among the incumbent Iloilo solons, only Rep. Neil Tupas Jr. (fifth district) was implicated in the pork barrel brouhaha. The five other who remained “unscathed” are Reps. Jerry Trenas (Iloilo City), Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr. (first district), Arcadio Gorriceta (second distrct), Arthur “Toto” Defensor Jr. (third district), and Jun Biron (fourth district).
Until the “Napolist” was submitted by DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima to the Senate blue ribbon committee recently, Ilonggos were in the guessing game as to who were in and who were out.
As early as 2013 when Napoles was first arrested and placed behind bars for serious illegal detention of trusted factotum turned whistle-blower, Benhur Luy, some active and former solons were jittery that their names would be mentioned in the ongoing senate investigation on the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by Napoles.
We hope those included in the “Napolist” will be able to clear their names soon. A public office after all is a public trust. If their constituents perceive them to be corrupt and unreliable, they have no more right to stay a minute longer in their high-paying government jobs. It’s what we call as delicadeza.