Bzzzzz: SEA Games verbal war recalls Napoles pork barrel scam

'Parking,' foundation, Napoles

THESE terms are back in circulation, thanks to the controversy over the Southeast Asia Games that our country is hosting:

[1] "PARKING": The huge amount of P7.5 billion, an item in the general appropriation bill for the expenses of the 2019 SEA Games, was first "parked" in the budget for the Department of Foreign Affairs, then when the money was rejected by DFA chief Teddy Locsin Jr., it was moved to Phisgoc or Philippine Southeast Asia Games Organizing Committee, a private foundation. When the budget was prepared, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano was still the DFA head. When the money was moved to Phisgoc, Cayetano was, and is, its chairman. The choice of parking sites for the money, later reduced to P6 billion (including the P1 billion add-on from the president's contingency fund).

[2] 'PRIVATE FOUNDATION." Private foundations were used by the pork barrel scammers who stole a total of at least P10 billion for a number of years. The foundation was where the public money was "parked" supposedly for projects the private foundation would undertake. The use of Phisgoc for the SEA Games drew a comparison by Lacson to the misuse of pork barrel or PDAF funds from 2000 to 2013. He didn't say Phisgoc handling of public money is illegal, he could not, he said, until an inquiry into the transaction would reveal more facts. But the comparison drew the ire of Cayetano, vowing he never stole a single peso, saying they even spent their personal money for some of the preparations when the controversy disrupted flow of funds.

[3] 'NAPOLES' ELEMENT. What drew Cayetano's ire most was the Phisgoc case being compared to the Janet Napoles style of fraud that stole an estimated P10 billion from the government.

Another Games category

House Speaker and Phisgoc chairman Cayetano was not above using sarcasm and humor in answering the flak on the SEA Games preparation lapses.

Aside from his lie-detector challenge, he had earlier derided the criticisms by saying he wanted a new category in the Games but he was told it couldn't be done. The new category: crab fight or jousting. He said the critics have the "crab mentality." What do the critics envy and want to have? It must be the power over the P6 billion Phisgoc purse.

'What-about' argument

Blogger Mocha Uson asked Senator Franklin Drilon why he was complaining about the P50 million SEA Games cauldron when he was silent during the toilet bowl controversy at the term of then President Noynoy Aquino.

That's called the "what-about" argument: deflecting an issue over a scandal by mentioning another past scandal. US President Donald Trump and his surrogates have perfected the technique.

Nothing is resolved by that kind of exchange in a debate or conversation.

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