THE ANATOMY OF BOUNTY MONEY FOR CRIMINALS

Photo by Philippine National Police

ONE VOICE

ON AUGUST 14, 2013, A WARRANT OF ARREST was issued against PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) Mastermind Janet-Lim Napoles.

The authorities had a hard time nailing the elusive crook who is said to have allegedly engineered- in collaboration with dishonest senators and congressmen- the milking of P10-B government funds using bogus NGOs for over 10 years.

It was only when then-President Noynoy Aquino raised the bounty to P 10-M for her arrest that Napoles surrendered. She knew then that even her first cousins will deliver her to jail for half the amount.

Circa-2018-2019, Ako Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe (52) – who had his sights on the mayoralty seat in Daraga, Albay, along with his police escort- was shot dead on December 22 after distributing gifts to senior citizens.

Batocabe appeared to be well-loved and of integrity being past Vice Chairman of the Anti-Drug, Good Governance and Accountability, and Natural Resources of Congress.

Responding like brotherhood mates, the Lower House raised P30-M- after which President Rodrigo Duterte added P 20-mM more (Total of P 50M) as “bounty money” leading to the arrest of the murderers.

This was the Legislature and the Executive Department’s way of getting justice without violating the separation of powers of the three equal departments of government.

Soon enough, Emmanuel Bonita Judavar, who claimed to be a witness- from the planning to the execution of the murder- pointed the finger to incumbent reelectionist Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo as the “mastermind” alongside 6 other accomplices.

Like falling dominoes- the six suspects including Emmanuel Rosello, Jarwin Batson, Danilo Muella, Rolando Arimado, Christopher Naval and Henry Yuson (ex-NPA triggerman) fell to the authorities’ dragnet as the PNP and the NBI held separate investigations.

If convicted, mayor Baldo will serve jail for double murder and six frustrated murders (should be homicide) for the 6 senior citizens wounded as passersby in the December 22 carnage.

Some of the suspects said they snitched on Mayor Baldo because instead of paying the promised P 5-M for their murder job- only shelled out P 250,000. There is no honor among criminals to be sure.

According to PNP Chief Director Oscar Albayalde, it is the PNP’s Special Investigative Task Group (STIG) and direct members of the Batocabe family who will decide where the entire or part of the huge P50-M bounty should go. To Judavar alone?

For their corroborative testimonies, what will the 6 suspects get in return to pin Baldo against the wall- for life certainly- in the Bilibid?

Will they be immune from prosecution or plead “guilty” as conspirators and try to wangle a commutation or complete dismissal of charges? What’s the deal?

In the Medieval Ages, the witnesses who pleaded “guilty” and the courts find the main accused as “Not Guilty” will have to answer for the charges they pleaded “guilty” for. A Medieval Law?

In the USA, we read the defense attorneys are not allowed to offer money for defense witnesses-but encourages the prosecution to do so.

In many parts of the world, “bounty” money is allowed in conspiratorial cases where it is impossible to elicit the truth from other “witnesses” or in other circumstances presenting a clear danger to the life of a potential witness if he testifies.

In Mafia movies, we have seen offers for a witness for a “new lease of life” to avoid reprisals from other Mafia members – with a new surgically rearranged face, new passport and millions of dollars to live as a”new man” in the Bahamas or somewhere.

In the second instance, courts have budgets to pay for “expert witnesses” especially when the cases need scientific or technical opinions to establish the direction of the cases. Among them would be cases involving Anti-Trust violations, ethical products, and professional malpractices, among others.

In the Philippines snitches on tax fraud are given 20% of the settled tax liabilities deficiency of the accused tax evaders.

At the end of the day, what is obvious about the Napoles and Batocabe cases is the fact that “bounty money” – substantial enough and on cases of grave national importance- can work for the advancement of the cause of justice and fair play.

The final conviction of the likes of a Napoles or a Mayor Baldo to years of jail will be mute testaments to the efficacy of  (bounty) money- it does sometimes make the world go around- in nailing scamming scoundrels and greedy politicians to their permanent habitat: prison cells till death do them part.

Yes, we can understand the amount of money a P10-B PDAF scam can bring- i.e. 344 bank accounts and 28 houses of Napoles – but, pray tell us- what is it in being a mayor of just a town (not even a city)-like Daraga – so attractive financially and politically such that an incumbent mayor would hire his own 6 staff (under fictitious payroll names) to carry out an obscene murder in broad daylight and expect to get home scot-free?

Especially when we consider that Batocabe was a Party List congressman- the first national lawmaker elected nationwide to be so murdered in the Duterte administration?

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com