Janet Lim-Napoles is taking Filipinos for a ride not with just one but, as it is turning out, several lists that she had prepared and supposedly containing names of public officials made fat by kickbacks from the pork barrel fund, some senators said on Tuesday.
Sen. Francis Escudero is convinced that the primary motive of Napoles, also supposedly a businesswoman who is trading what with whom nobody really knows about, in coming up with numerous lists is to muddle the issue further.
Escudero noted that in order to give credibility to the lists, the detained businesswoman gave copies to different government officials particularly Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and former senator Panfilo Lacson for them to be the ones to disclose them to the public.
What is more confusing, he said, is why de Lima and Lacson allowed themselves to act as messengers of Napoles, who is accused of masterminding the P10-billion scam.
“It was Napoles who gave them the lists and instructed them not to disclose [them]and they comply. It now appears that they are serving as Napoles’ [spokesmen], messenger[s]and agents,” Escudero told reporters in an interview.
At the same time, he maintained that he never allotted a single peso from his priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel to any of the bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) of Napoles and he never benefited from her.
“I hope that these people [Lacson and de Lima] would not allow themselves to be used by Napoles to muddle and divert the issue from her because in the end it is Napoles that is the source of all [this uproar],” Escudero said.
He finds it amazing that his name was included in the list considering that he was the one who filed a resolution directing the Senate blue ribbon committee to investigate the scam and also the one who asked for Napoles to be invited to hearings.
Escudero said to put an end to all speculation, he will ask the committee to once again invite Napoles and Benhur Luy to the hearings in order for the committee to compare their testimonies.
Sen. Miriam Santiago, who was also mentioned by Lacson, also maintained that she never had dealings with the businesswoman, noting that anyone can make a list.
“The Napoles list, if unsigned, has no evidentiary value at all. I repeat, Lacson is an attack dog of [Sen. Juan Ponce] Enrile. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that to allege is not proof. Where is the evidence, as defined in the Rules of Court?”
Santiago said in a statement sent to reporters.
She reiterated her call for the blue ribbon committee to get the list of Luy that she believes is substantiated by documents and details.
“There is an affidavit, although unsigned, circulating in Metro Manila that Pinky Lacson has asked for leave of absence from Malacañang. The highly confidential reason is that he is scheduled for a gender-change operation in a remote clinic in the United States,” Santiago, a constitutional law expert, said in her statement, referring to Lacson by the pejorative Pinky.
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, like Escudero, also denied having dealings with Napoles and said he is ready to answer the issue head-on so that the people could see the difference between actions of those who are guilty and innocent.
He considers the Napoles lists as the businesswoman’s weapons of “mass distraction” to sow confusion among the public and to divert people’s attention from her.
Cayetano called on the government particularly de Lima to release all documents including request letters and special allotment request orders of lawmakers involved in the scam.
Sen. Loren Legarda said she is not bothered by the lists because she knows that she never endorsed any NGOs of Napoles and that she did not even know the businesswoman.
Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said that he would rather wait to see the lists before giving his comment but he admitted to be confused by the lists.
Other senators have opted not to comment on the issue.