SENATE President Franklin Drilon on Tuesday admitted knowing Janet Lim Napoles, the businesswoman in the center of the pork barrel controversy, but said he never dealt with her or any of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) linked to her.
Drilon was reacting to a television report on Monday which showed several photos of him and wife Mila with the Napoles couple at a party in Heritage Park in Taguig.
“I met her socially, but I don’t know anything about her business,” Drilon told reporters.
He said the photos were taken during a dinner organized by the church where they were invited. “Mrs. Drilon, being an active church worker, was invited because the guests were seminarians from China who were here on a study tour.”
Drilon said that he expects more pictures of him with Napoles will come out because he had seen Napoles in other gatherings. However, he stressed that what is important is that he never had dealings with her particularly concerning the allocation of pork barrel to the businesswoman’s groups.
The Senate president said that there is a clear effort to implicate him and make him appear guilty by association.
“You can go through the Department of Budget Management and Commission on Audit websites and you will not see a single peso of my Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) being assigned to any of Napoles’s NGOs,” Drilon said.
While he admitted having shortcomings in revealing that he knew Napoles, Drilon stressed that it is because he has nothing to do with her or her NGOs that allegedly misused the PDAF.
Several Senate members have been accused of channeling millions of their PDAF allocation to questionable or bogus NGOs linked to Napoles.
Meanwhile, President Benigno Aquino 3rd said charges against those allegedly involved in the multibillion-peso pork barrel fund scam will be filed not later than Monday.
“The first charges with regards to this issue, I understand, will be filed not later than Monday,” Aquino said, citing a possibility that “it can be filed by Friday.”
“I will be given, as I promised you all, a complete briefing sometime this week; and the commitment is not later than Monday next week and possibly by Friday this week,” he told reporters.
Asked about the charges against other personalities who were operating a similar scam like Napoles, the President said: “There’s an ongoing parallel investigation by the Department of Justice. “
Aquino did not mention who will be charged but he said there was already a non-bailable case filed, apparently referring to Janet Lim-Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim for illegal detention.
Meanwhile, Aquino denied meeting Napoles before he became president.
“I don’t remember her. In fact, I’ll be very honest with you, parang compared sa pictures na nakita ko sa diyaryo at saka iyong kaharap ko, may pumasok lang sa isip ko for a little while, ‘Ito ba talaga itong hinahanap natin?’[In fact, I’ll be very honest with you, compared to the pictures I saw in newspapers versus the one in front of me, I was thinking if this was really the person we were looking for],” he said.
“I tried to research in my mind if I ever came across her or even heard of her name; and I hope I am not turning senile but I don’t recall any incident,” Aquino added.