Benhur Luy, who revealed highly questionable pork barrel releases arranged by Janet Lim-Napoles, said on Thursday legislators got as much as 50 percent in kickbacks from his former boss.
Luy, a former trusted employee of Napoles who is now providing testimony against her, told the Senate Blue Ribbon committee that Napoles sometimes haggled with a lawmaker on the lawmaker’s cut for releasing part of his Priority Assistance Development Fund (PDAF) to a non-government organization set up or controlled by Napoles.
“The lawmaker will ask for 50 percent, and Napoles would say 45 percent because she has taxes to pay,” Luy, who wore a bulletproof vest, said.
He also told the committee headed by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III there were times when a lawmaker’s chief of staff would get a balato, or smaller cut, from the deal.
So did the officials of the government agency that released the funding for project Napoles’ NGO was supposed to undertake, Luy said.
Napoles is the key figure in the multibillion pork barrel scandal that has outraged the nation. She has been detained on charges of illegal detention filed by Luy.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who sat beside Luy during the Blue Ribbon hearing, was allowed by the committee to guide the witness along in revealing what he knew about Napoles’ operation.
Luy made it clear that Napoles ran the operation and there were no other individuals above her.
The committee did not press Luy into naming the legislators involved in the scam ahead of the filing of charges against them next week.
Luy said there were times when lawmakers visited their office at Discovery Suites to ask Napoles about projects they could channel their PDAF into. During such visits, the lawmakers also discussed the kickback they would be getting.
There were also times when a lawmaker would call Napoles to tell her of prospective PDAF projects he has listed.
Luy also told the panel that his ex-boss had contacts in government agencies which she used to implement PDAF projects.
Napoles also had insiders at the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), he said.
Among the agencies Luy mentioned were National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC), the National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor), and the Zamboanga Rubber Estate Corporation (ZREC).
These were the same implementing agencies named by the Commission on Audit (COA) in its special audit reports last month.
Luy said that after initial talks with lawmaker, the identification of the implementing agency that will carry out the project, Napoles would prepare the endorsement letter, memorandum of agreement and other documents that will be signed by the lawmaker or his authorized representative, usually his chief of staff.
The legislator will then write the Department of Budget and Management, through the chairmen of Senate finance committee or the appropriations committee in the House, to formalize the release of the PDAF.
Luy said Napoles was very strict in releasing a lawmaker’s cuts. She did it in tranches, the first after a lawmaker issued the listing of the project and the second after DBM issued the special allotment release order (SARO).
The final instalment was delivered after a lawmaker provides Napoles a copy of the SARO either through email or fax as proof that the budget for the project has been approved.
Napoles would then follow up the transaction with the designated implementing agency. Once the agency got the SARO it will issue a check to Napoles for the supposed project.
The check will be deposited in Napoles’ account and she would withdraw the amount after three days, when the check is cleared.
Aside from the lawmaker’s 50 percent, the implementing agency received 10 percent of the project cost aside from the official 3 percent. The remaining 40 percent went to Napoles.
Luy said sometimes Napoles herself brought bags of cash to the senators, while in some instances the money is picked up by a senator’s chief of staff at the JLN office.
The share of a member of the House was either deposited in his bank account, or he got it through fund transfer or manager’s checks.
Sometimes, the congressman’s staffers would accompany him to the bank to withdraw his share, Luy said.
Asked by De Lima for evidence to back his claims, Luy said he had the bank account numbers of all legislators and their staff.
He also had the drafts of memorandums of agreement (MOAs), endorsement letters and other documents Napoles used in her transactions.