Reports have emerged of the impending acquittal of the central figure in the Pork Barrel Scam Janet Lim Napoles for her conviction in the illegal detention of her cousin, Benhur Luy.
The news is a huge blow to the efforts made by the various whistleblowers of the Pork Barrel Scam, including Luy himself, who made it possible for prominent Senators such as Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada to end up behind bars for scamming taxpayer funds. At the time of her arrest, Napoles’ operations was estimated to have racked up at least Php15 billion in taxpayers’ funds in 10 years. The list of benefactors stretched from the Upper to the Lower houses, so far only Estrada, Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile were convicted for their parts – what many forget is that there were others also implicated by Napoles herself.
Why the state agencies did not go after the other big names on the list is a contentious topic, with many saying that the then-administration of Benigno Aquino Jr. only went for individuals on the opposition while protecting his own party-mates. Regardless of whatever the reason may be, it is worth remembering the other suspects of the Pork Barrel Scam in light of the release of Janet Napoles.
Attempting to cover even the names in the Lower House would stretch this article to several thousand words, it would also include names of individuals that the general public may not have heard about before. Therefore, this article shall prioritise the names of the Senators who were listed in Napoles’ affidavit handed to the Senate:
1. Rodolfo Biazon
A member of the Liberal Party, the former soldier-turned-politician served as Senator from 1998-2010. He ran for the seat of his son, Ruffy, as congressman for the lone district of Muntinlupa City when he became term-limited to seek another Senate term.
2. Robert “Bobby” Zabala Barbers
The former policeman and later DILG Secretary ran as Senator in 1998, per advice of close friend and former President Fidel Ramos. He left the Senate after one term, in 2004 at the height of the “Hello, Garci” scandal which he was also implicated in.
He is the patriarch of a very influential political dynasty in his home province of Surigao del Norte, where his son “Ace” Barbers served as governor.
3. Juan Ponce Enrile
4. Jinggoy Estrada
5. Loi Estrada
The former First Lady and mother of PDAF scam co-accused Jinggoy Estrada served as a Senator from 2001-2007. As shown in the photo above, she is also a close friend of Janet Napoles. (Photo taken from Rappler.com)
6. Gringo Honasan
Current Senator Gringo Honasan is best known for being a career coup plotter. His name was thrust into the limelight first in 1986, when he led the infamous coup’de’etat against then-President Corazon Aquino. He then staged a similar coup in 2006, against Gloria Arroyo.
In 2016, the Office of the Ombudsman recommended the filing of graft charges against Honasan for his role in the Pork Barrel Scam.
7. Robert Jaworski
The legendary basketball player served as a Senator from 1998-2004. Despite being known as one of the earliest basketball Hall of Famers in the country and enjoys a cult following among Philippine basketball fans, Jaworski lost his re-election bid in 2004.
8. Lito Lapid
A veteran actor known for his action movies, Lapid served as a Senator from 2004-2016. Prior to that, he was the governor of Pampanga province. The Pork Barrel Scam is not the first blemish in his political career, also being implicated in the Fertilizer Fund Scam in 2004.
9. Loren Legarda
One of the Senate’s most popular faces. Legarda adopted an environmentalist persona during her time in the Upper House, which she entered in 1998 and is currently serving her final term in office – last winning in 2013. She is a former television and radio broadcaster.
She was also married to convicted killer and former Batangas governor Antonio Leviste, they divorced in 2008.
10. Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay
A son and namesake of the former Philippine President, Jun served as a Senator from 1995-2007. He is also a member of the Liberal Party.
During the Estrada corruption trials in 2001, Magsaysay was one of the Senators who voted for the opening of the secretive bank envelope.
11. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.
Another namesake of a former President. Bongbong is the only son of the late dictator and human rights abuser Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. He is a current Senator, and in the 2016 elections ran as Vice-President with the late Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
Not only was his name implicated by Napoles, but according to the affidavit he received the fourth largest amount of Pork Barrel money after the three convicted Senators.
12. Tessie Aquino Oreta
Known as the Philippine Senate’s “Dancing Queen” after being shown on live television to strike a jig when her majority bloc won the vote not to open the envelope containing the bank details of Joseph Estrada during his trial.
Oreta served as Senator from 1998-2004, but was defeated for a re-election bid. She attempted to run as Senator again in 2007, but was unsuccessful.
13. Aquilino Pimentel Jr.
Considered an “Elder Statesman” in Philippine politics. Pimentel is among the most veteran forces in politics, serving as Senator from 1998-2010. He was a former assemblyman, one of the many contributing to the 1987 Constitutional Assembly.
His son is current Senator, Koko Pimentel.
14. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III
The current Senate President, Pimentel first ran as Senator in 2007 but was unsuccessful – finishing a close 13th after Migz Zubiri. After an election protest, Zubiri was found to have amassed fraudulent votes from Mindanao and the latter’s election victory was overturned. Koko replaced Zubiri thereafter, and he won re-election in 2013 with the Liberal Party.
15. Bong Revilla, Jr.
16. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III
Another former actor-turned-politician, Sotto entered the Senate first in 1992 and served two terms until 2004. He ran for another Senate term in 2007, but was unsuccessful. Being allied with former President Arroyo at that time he was installed as Dangerous Drugs Board in 2008. Sotto has then adopted the persona of a pro-life, religious conservative being the most vocal opponent against the RH Law and against various safe sex measures being implemented in the country.
17. Cynthia Villar
The wife of another Senator and Pork Barrel Scam co-accused Manny Villar, Cynthia is an incumbent Senator who first won in 2013. Prior to becoming a Senator, she was a congressman representing the lone district of Las Pinas City from 2001-2010.
Her husband ran for the Presidency in 2010. She is involved in the latter’s billion-dollar real estate business.
18. Manny Villar, Jr.
A real life “rags-to-riches” story. Villar was born to a poor family living in the slums of Tondo who then started a successful real estate company now worth several billion dollars. He is among the country’s wealthiest people, and entered politics as a congressman in 1992. Villar won a seat in the Senate in 2001, which he held until 2013.
He also ran an unsuccessful bid for the Presidency, with Pork Barrel Scam co-accused Loren Legarda as his running mate.
19. Francis “Chiz” Escudero
The babyface Senator was a high-profile congressman between 1998-2007. He ran successfully for the Senate in 2007, siding with the Opposition slate.
Escudero married famous actress Heart Evangelista in 2015, which was seen as a move to boost his profile in time for his Vice-Presidential campaign run in 2016. He ran that year with fellow Senator Grace Poe as his running mate, both were unsuccessful.
20. Alan Peter Cayetano
Sharing many similarities with Chiz Escudero, Cayetano entered in the Senate in 2007 after serving several terms in the Lower House previously. He was an Opposition candidate against Gloria Arroyo.
He ran unsuccessfully as Vice-President in last year’s elections, running alongside eventual President Rodrigo Duterte. Cayetano is rumoured to be the eventual Secretary for the Department of Foreign Affairs, after his one-year ban on unsuccessful election candidates being appointed to executive positions expires.