MANILA—Skepticism greeted the surrender of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles to President Benigno Aquino III, with various groups and individuals saying they could not help but think the move was part of a well-orchestrated script.
Netizens also found questionable the fact that the Chief Executive himself escorted Napoles, a fugitive with a P10 million bounty on her head, to the police headquarters.
“[Aquino] himself escorted a fugitive. Special? Is that right? The Napoles teleserye is unfolding. Napoles is a crook, she should be treated in a humane way. But special? Hmmmm…,” activist Mae Paner, popularly known as Juana Change, said in a post on Facebook.
“Be vigilant, mga kapatid. Implement transparency and accountability. Deals? Or no deals? FOI na!,” she added.
Twitter users found it hard to believe that the President accompanied Napoles to the police.
“Ok, news have it that there’ll be no special treatment for her, but the President himself escorted her to Crame. What the heck!” Twitter user @itsmetolits said.
Manuel Mejorada, who uses the Twitter account @boymejo, noted that Aquino had time for Napoles but was missing during the first few days of last week’s flooding.
“High value suspect kasi si Napoles. Handle with care. Pero noong baha, hindi nagpakita si [Aquino] (Napoles is a high value suspect. Handle with care. But when there was flooding, [Aquino] couldn’t be seen),” he said.
The militant group Anakbayan likened the surrender to a “poorly-written, telenovela-inspired script” to distract the public from the real issue of abolishing pork barrel funds.
It warned that a deal could have been struck between Napoles and the Palace to spare the President’s allies from explosive revelations.
“The question must also be asked: Is there a cover-up deal between Noynoy and Napoles to exclude Palace and allies from pork barrel scam? We should not be surprised if Napoles’ scripted surrender results in whitewash of the evidence against administration allies implicated in the pork barrel scam,” it said.
Renato Reyes of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said the latest developments seemed intended to put Aquino, under pressure to abolish all pork barrel funds, in good light.
“It’s hard not to see the carefully orchestrated dramatic surrender to Aquino and the turn over to [Interior Secretary Mar] Roxas and the PNP,” Reyes said.
“Seemed calculated to make the President look good even if he refuses to scrap the pork barrel system,” he added.
He said Napoles’ “terms of surrender,” and whether there was a deal stuck with her must be disclosed.
“The people must demand answers now lest political ‘consideration’ and posturing, not true accountability, dictate the situation,” he said.
Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon said people should be wary that the whole surrender scenario could have been stage-managed.
“The surrender seems among the ‘calculated tactics’ of the Palace to defeat the public outrage and deflect the increasing pressure on the President to give up his own pork,” Ridon said.
He said Napoles must be made to disclose all the participants in the chain of corruption of the pork barrel funds.
“The public should not rest easy yet. The surrender of Janet Napoles should not deter the public from stepping up the call for the abolition of the pork barrel system, particularly presidential pork,” he said.