Photo from the Internet
In August 2013, members of the Letran community linked arms with millions of outraged Filipinos in Luneta Park to call for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), in the aftermath of a political scandal now referred to as the “Pork Barrel Scam."
This was a concerted effort in response to the events of July 2013 where, according to initial reports by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, it had been alleged that 28 members of the Congress of the Philippines had misused funds meant for national-level government projects; Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Bongbong Marcos and Gregorio Honasan were named in the report, but only Revilla, Enrile, and Estrada were the only politicians incarcerated.
Janet Lim-Napoles, businesswoman and alleged mastermind of the P10 billion PDAF scam, surrendered to then President Benigno Aquino III late in August.
Defrauded by the very people elected to look after the welfare of the citizenry, Letranites, in keeping with its vision to be “ardent lovers of truth”, decided to draw the line and hold these leaders accountable. In an August 2013 report from The LANCE, former Rector and President Rev. Fr. Tamerlane R. Lana, O.P. said the following in a statement: “In the advent of recent events, the allegations and controversies concerning tax payer’s funds spent maliciously for personal gains, and landed in the hands of only a few.”
The former Rector also lent his support, and effectively the Colegio’s, in calling for the abolition of the PDAF. “If this is not met and the system of allocating Priority Development Assistance Fund is only becoming a nest of corruption, then Colegio de San Juan de Letran believes this should be put to an end.”
Nearly five years since the revelations were publicized, Napoles, according to Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes, has been admitted provisionally into the Justice Department’s witness protection program, galvanizing anti-corruption crusaders into action. For her part, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said she plans to block any moves to admit Napoles into the witness protection program.
This move, allegedly with and through the advice of government official pert of this current administration's inner-most circles, is being questioned for its agenda. This coincides with other questionable decisions the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has implemented, including the dropping of cases against self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim, a very close “kumpare” of the President.
People are asking: Why? Why now? Why during these times when crucial issues will rely on the independence of the three branches of government when a true principle of check and balances are needed. Will the government use Napoles as a leverage over members of the Legislature indicted in the Pork Barrel Scam? Will this administration use this advantage to sway Congress’ decisions towards issues like Dengvaxia, and the impeachment of Chief Justice-on leave Maria Lourdes Sereno?
As for its cause to hold those in power accountable and to get at the root of all these, where has the Letranite been since?
This is the cost of loving truth; we do not stop, we do not falter, we continue to search and defend the truth.
Thus we call on the entire Letran community, the brave and gallant Knights, to remain vigilant, to question, to contest, and not to remain silent in times like these when the truth will be the only thing that will differentiate us from patronizing, blind followers.
Be aware. Act. Stay in the know.