Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa on Monday denied he has connections with Janet Lim-Napoles, the businesswoman at the center of the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Testifying at the House of Representatives’ budget hearing for the Office of the President, Ochoa made it clear that he had divested his interests at the Marcos, Ochoa, Serapio, Tan (MOST) law office he founded.
The law firm initially represented Napoles in the illegal detention case filed by Benhur Luy, her former employee who exposed the pork barrel scam, but Ochoa said the firm dropped the case on his advice.
“I came to know that they (MOST) assisted initially in the legal representation of Napoles, but when I learned that they were doing that, I advised them not to continue and they withdrew the representation to Napoles,” Ochoa said.
He said he didn’t know that one of his consultants, Brian Yamsuan, had direct links to Napoles. He said he learned about it only when Yamsuan’s name came out in a news report.
“There was a news article that said that he was involved. It was right away we decided to terminate his services,” Ochoa said. “I was not aware of his links to Napoles.”
Yamsuan was a communications consultant in Ochoa’s office, monitoring various news articles and all media-related activities. He was dismissed almost two weeks ago.
Ochoa has since been cleared by the Malacanang since reports of his ties with Napoles surfaced although it was the first time that he himself denied such allegations because he does not grant any media interviews. He avoided the media after the hearing.
It was not the first time Ochoa had been linked to controversy. Last July 25, The Manila Times reported that he was one of the “padrinos” or protectors of ranking officials at the graft-tainted Bureau of Customs, where he is referred to as the “Little President.”