“He tried to explain the sources of that fund….He said he had business, business, etc. etc…. There was no specific mention….” —Gen. Narciso Abaya (Ret.), former Armed Forces chief of staff, on former AFP comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia (Ret.)
Pepito was ranting about President Aquino’s Porsche. He was comparing it to Gloria Arroyo’s million-peso dinner at Le Cirque.
“I’m sorry to disappoint you, Pepito, but the comparison does not hold,” I told him. “The Porsche came out of Noynoy’s pocket, while the Le Cirque dinner came out of yours. And mine.”
Pepito persisted, “But it shows the inability of Noynoy to transcend his social origins and to feel the sufferings of a majority of his people.”
“Get off your bleeding heart, high horse. If you had his money you would buy an effing Porsche faster than Willie Revillame’s pot-bellied dancers can say, ‘Whaan-dher-fhool, Fhaa-byoh-loos!’”
So Pepito transferred his rage to the plea bargain of General Garcia, “What kind of judicial system do we have? I feel sorry for our country.”
“Actually, I feel sorrier for the general,” I said.
“He’s getting away with plunder and you’re sorry for him?”
“Yes. I think he got screwed.”
“No, I’m not. Garcia ended up admitting to bribery and money laundering, in addition to turning over P135 million to the government. How crazy is that?”
“He was facing plunder charges and he plea-bargained to lesser offenses and kept half his loot, that’s how crazy,” Pepito replied.
“Excuse me but didn’t the prosecutors admit they had a weak case against Garcia? Didn’t they say they had no proof beyond reasonable doubt?”
“That’s their excuse,” he replied, convinced there was never any intention to go after Garcia. “There were bigger fishes that wanted the case closed,” he added.
I agreed but I was more concerned about poor General Garcia.
“How could his lawyer not have known the prosecution’s case was weak, didn’t he read the charge sheet? Didn’t he see they had no documentary evidence and no witnesses against his client? His lawyer sold him out.”
“And how is Garcia going to prove that?” Pepito asked.
“By calling the special prosecutors as witnesses. By making special prosecutor Capistrano testify that he told the press, ‘We are not supposed to say this [admit the prosecution’s case is weak] because General Garcia could have us killed. He could say, ‘Linoko nyo ako.’”
I added that the other prosecutors said basically the same thing. “So Garcia’s lawyer is the one who should be worried about being killed because he had a slam dunk on a ‘not guilty’ verdict but he settled for a plea bargain that cost his client P135 million.”
“Are you out of your mind?”
“No, the prosecutors could be right, maybe Garcia did not plunder.”
“You have lost your mind,” Pepito concluded.
I teased Pepito some more, “What if you woke up one day and found hundreds of millions in your bank account and prime real estate in America in your name but you had no clue as to how they got there? You would do the logical thing, you would hide them to avoid explaining the unexplainable.”
“That’s preposterous!” he exclaimed.
“But that’s exactly what the prosecutors meant when they said evidence of wealth is not evidence of plunder. And that’s why they said accepting Garcia’s plea bargain for money laundering was the best option.”
“You expect me to buy that cockamamie reason?”
“No, but they do.”
“What about the bribery plea, did Garcia admit to taking or giving a bribe? And, in either case, who was the other party, or parties, involved; how much was exchanged and for what, why not look into that?”
“You want the Ombudsgirl to investigate that for you?”
“Of course! And to prosecute….”
“Sorry, but I think the big fish would prefer that she investigate the Porsche instead.”