How exactly does one “surrender” to the President of the Philippines? Does one come knocking at Malacanang’s door with their hands in the air? What exactly does turning a fugitive over to a cabinet Secretary for “processing” mean? Regardles… now that Janet Lim Napoles has reportedly surrendered to Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III, the plot surrounding the top person-of-interest in the raging controversy around Congressional pork barrel thievery (allegedly) is now allowed to thicken.Interestingly, Napoles’s “surrender” came shortly after President BS Aquino announced a Php10-million “bounty” on her capture. Whatever the facts surrounding this bit of trivia may be, it need not take a rocket scientist to predict the sorts of speculation this factoid will likely induce across the Philippines’ chattering classes, some of which had already been “confirmed” by Napoles’s lawyer. And what else can the public do but speculate and broker rumours considering that Presidential Security Group (PSG) personnel have banned journalists from entering the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame where Napoles reportedly surrendered.
Aquino motored to the PNP national headquarters to accept the surrender of Napoles and turned her over to Roxas. The President also met with Napoles’ husband, Jimmy.
But the media was barred from the meeting. Unlike criminal suspects who are immediately presented to the media, the Presidential Security Group ordered the police not to allow journalists to enter the camp.
There was no explanation why Napoles was shielded from the media.
But then why turn a suspected crook over to a cabinet secretary? Isn’t crime a police matter?
One also can’t help but wonder why a Philippine President would even bother to “motor” to Camp Crame to “accept” Napoles’s “surrender”. Some observant netizens have likened this to the President making a courtesy call to the wealthy fugitive.
To be fair, perhaps Napoles may be entitled to courtesy from no less than the President of the Philippines. After all, rumours about her hefty contributions to election campaigns have persisted after “a friend” of Napoles, showbiz personality Lolit Solis, identified Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa as supposedly having solicited campaign contributions from Napoles back then.
Solis was interviewed over at radio dzBB, claiming that she heard Napoles talk on the phone with a certain “Jojo”.
“Magkasama kami ni Jenny (Janet Napoles) that time may kausap siya sa phone parang nanghihingi ng pera,” Lolit told radio hosts Arnold Clavio and Lala Roque.
Prodded by Clavio if it was Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, she said: “Jojo Ochoa.”
She said she was not sure which Jojo was on the other line, but Napoles supposedly told her it was Jojo Ochoa.
According to Solis, this all “happened during Christmas time, months before the 2013 elections.”
This was, of course, reportedly denied by Ochoa as “hearsay”. Ochoa has since “chosen not to dignify these with a response,” according to Assistant Secretary Jed M. Eva III.
The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) have also reportedly denied rumours that Napoles contributed to BS Aquino’s presidential campaign in 2010.
A friend of Napoles had earlier disclosed that the latter donated to the campaign funds of Aquino, Villar, and Estrada in 2010.
But based on the Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) that the three submitted to the Comelec during the May 2010 polls nothing shows she had contributions to the presidential candidates’ campaign funds.
What other juicy bits of information lie waiting to be harvested from the Philippines’ most wanted former fugitive? It is no wonder, then, that President BS Aquino is stumbling all over himself to navigate Manila’s traffic-choked streets on the ride from Malacanang to Camp Crame just to personally oversee the baffling handover of an alleged crook from the police to Secretary Mar Roxas.
Did BS Aquino make an exception this time on his promise to be one with the huddled masses’ traffic suffering and invoke his entitlement to a proper motorcade with blaring “wang-wang” sirens to ensure he gets every bit of an advantage over the average Pinoy schmoe in the drive to the PNP’s headquarters?
Who could blame him? The Napoles affair is an “important” thing, after all, right folks?
[Photo coutesy Inquirer.net.]