• Key witness pins down governor

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    The aide of former representative and now Gov. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete of Masbate, Jose Sumalpong, went to the office of JLN Corporation, witness Marina Sula told the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division.

    Sula, Napoles’ former employee-turned-witness, took the stand on Thursday during Lanete and Napoles’ bail hearing over a plunder charge in connection with the pork barrel scam.

    Asked how she knows Lanete had transactions, the witness replied “When I see Sumalpong at the office” whom she identified as “staff of Cong. Lanete.”

    Sula said she was referring to Jose Sumalpong.

    The prosecution, who was quizzing her on direct examination, then asked how she knows that he is Lanete’s staff.

    “Yun po ang pagpapakilala niya sa amin ni Madam [That was how Madam introduced him to us],” said Sula, who calls her former boss Madam.

    However, she said she cannot recall the number of times Sumalpong allegedly went to their office. “Marami pong beses [A lot of times],” she told the prosecution, saying it was from 2006 to 2013.

    The witness further testified that Sumalpong allegedly goes there to talk to Napoles and submit documents.

    “And at one time, he inquired from Benhur if the money is available,” Sula claimed.

    She said she heard this as she was about two-arms’ length away from Benhur Luy, who was JLN’s finance officer.

    Admitting that she was not privy to the money, Sula merely remembers Luy saying that it was not available yet.

    Lanete, who allegedly received kickbacks totalling P108.4 million out of her Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel allocation, is detained in a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.

    Napoles was also detained in a BJMP facility within the said camp before she was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong, after a Makati Trial Court found her guilty in the serious illegal detention case filed by Luy, a key pork barrel scam witness

    Meanwhile, Sumalpong as well as Napoles’ employee John Raymond De Asis, who are also respondents in the plunder case, remain at large.

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