On Coal Trading And Others

by Leo Alejandrino

Posted at Aug 11 2013 11:02 AM | Updated as of Aug 11 2013 07:02 PM

It’s amazing what coal trading can do for you.

Or so is the claim of the lady with the aristocratically hyphenated family name now on the no-fly zone of Senators and Representatives. The business has allowed her to live her dream and her daughter the crass displays of ostentation that have offended public sensibilities. Let’s see if the NBI and the BIR are buying it. As for the legislators, they are busy ducking for cover, pointing fingers and emptying their bank accounts. The silence from this normally loquacious bunch is deafening.

Right now it is a case of she said, they said. There are a couple of ways for the Government to go about this.

The first is to follow the money, from the time the funds left the Treasury, to the dummy NGO/service providers, to the handlers, to the politicians. Much of the trail will end up in non-traceable cash withdrawals and somebody’s bathtub but still, the journey of P10 billion over ten years must leave a stench. Following the money was what led to the bank accounts and ouster of Erap and ex-CJ Corona. Calling AMLA, again.

One reference point may be the Air Materiel Wings Savings and Loan Assc., a bank run by retired Air Force buddies of the family where the lady reportedly parked P510 million over the years. (Who deposits that kind of money in an institution with that name? It reportedly pays 13% interest, tax-free, your only worry being (a) how does it do it and (b) what happens when its biggest client skips town. But we digress.)

Another way is to get the principal suspect to turn state witness in a plea bargain and go after the political honchos she allegedly serviced. This brings up the elemental question of how far to take matters: Is the Administration satisfied to nail Mrs. Billion Bucks or is the plan to go after the political gods on whose pork barrel the gravy train traveled? Will the investigation be just another one of many or will it seek to get some really, really big fish? It was the same question before the President when he debated whether to go for the Chief Justice (He decided to pull the trigger). The answer has long-term consequences for our nation.

Taking down the Senators and Representatives associated with the scam would be historic from a governance viewpoint. On the political Richter scale it would be at par with the ouster of Erap and of Corona (There would be a nice symmetry to it, one send-off for every equal branch of Government). Politically and legally, however, it would be more tortuous: Unlike Erap and Corona’s case, it would mean Congressmen turning on a bunch of their own something they have no DNA for.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.