• Napoles clams up at probe

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    Janet Lim-Napoles appears tired and exasperated after being bombarded with questions at the Senate hearing on Thursday. PHOTO BY ALEXIS CORPUZ

    Janet Lim-Napoles appears tired and exasperated after being bombarded with questions at the Senate hearing on Thursday. PHOTO BY ALEXIS CORPUZ

    Appearing for the first time before a Senate investigation into the pork barrel scam, Janet Lim-Napoles denied allegations she funnelled P10 billion in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations to her pockets and that of her lawmaker associates.

    At the Thursday hearing of the Blue Ribbon committee that lasted for six hours, Napoles denied involvement in the scam, belying the claims of six of her trusted employees who sat not far from her.

    The businesswoman, who was arrested on a serious illegal detention charge, arrived at the Senate session hall wearing a bulletproof vest.

    Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, committee chairman, appoint the lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) to assist Napoles during the course of the proceedings.

    A few minutes into the hearing Napoles, after consulting PAO lawyers headed by Howard Areza, asked the committee for an executive session, citing the sensitivity of the issue.

    Guingona rejected the request, saying the issue does not concern national security.

    Senate majority leader Alan Peter Cayetano said that if the panel agreed to an executive session, the Senate can vote to divulge what was discussed behind closed doors.

    ‘Not true’
    Guingona asked Napoles if she had ordered the creation of several foundations and used her employees as dummies.

    “Hindi po totoo [it’s not true],” she answered.

    Benhur Luy, the main witness against Napoles, told the panel her former employer was “lying.”

    Merlina Sunas, another former employee of Napoles, backed Luy, saying Napoles directed her to register at least 20 foundations at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Napoles only admitted to having formed the Magdalena Luy-Lim Foundation she named after her late mother.

    “The Magdalena Luy-Lim foundation is the only foundation that I formed which is involved in outreach programs at Boys Town, Girls Town, Golden Heart,” she said.

    She denied owning properties that were used as offices of the NGOs [non-government organizations] linked to the scam, contradicting Luy’s claim she asked him to handle the registration of her properties.

    Napoles denied she offered lawmakers 50 percent kickbacks from PDAF-funded projects coursed through her NGOs and insisted that she never had any dealings with them.

    “Kawawa naman po sila,” she even told the panel, referring to the Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. who were charged with plunder along with her.

    Luy insisted that since he started working at JLN Corp. in 2002, Napoles already had transactions with the government officials. He said he has proof of the transactions like bank documents, bank account numbers and endorsement letters of lawmakers.

    Marina Sula said Napoles always kept vouchers of all her transactions with lawmakers from the time she became a JLN employee and until 2013. She said all documents were ordered destroyed by Napoles in January.

    Besides the senators, heads of implementing agencies also allegedly received huge cuts from the PDAF transactions said Luy who even identified Alan Jabellana, former head of the National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor) and Antonio Ortiz of Technology Research Center (TRC) as among those who got kickbacks from Napoles.

    Hefty commissions
    Luy named the legislators and their representatives who had received 50 percent cuts from the total amount of PDAF they have allocated.

    Revilla Jr., he said, allocated a total of P652 million PDAF from 2004 to 2010 and was able to get a total of P224,515,000 commission while Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile allotted P726,550,000 from 2004 to 2012 and got P172,834,500 in commissions. Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, he added, allotted P751,500,000 since 2004 but got P183,793,750 in commissions based on his records.

    Former Rep. Rizalina Lanete, Luy said, allotted around P256 million of her PDAF and got P108.4 million in commissions; Rep. Edgar Valdez got a P62 million commission from his total PDAF allocation of P125 million; and Rep. Rodolfo Plaza allotted P75 million and got P37 million.

    Former Rep. Samuel Dangwa allegedly got P27 million from his P54 million PDAF allocation and Rep. Constantino Jaraula got P20.8 million from his P55million PDAF allotments.

    In a statement released after the inquiry, Enrile urged Napoles to reveal the whole truth no matter who gets hurt.

    “I feel compelled to issue a statement on today’s Senate hearing lest my silence in the face of the most outrageous allegations will be construed against me. I support any investigation that seeks to uncover the truth about this PDAF scam,” Enrile said.

    He scored some members of the Blue ribbon panel for using the hearing to make “wild-eyed charges, baseless assumptions, and false accusations and converted the investigation into a parody of justice.”

    Waste of time
    Officials of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said the hearing was a “waste of time.”

    Fr. Edwin Corros, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant Peoples (ECMI) of the CBCP said that it would be better if Napoles was brought before the court instead of the Senate.

    “I am disappointed. [The hearing was] a waste of time and probably resources. [It would be] better to bring her now to court,” Corros said.

    Lingayen-Dagupan Emeritus Archbishop Oscar Cruz said Napoles should have not appeared at the hearing at all since she did not say anything significant.

    Cruz lauded Guingona, Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Cayetano who he said “somehow helped” in searching for the truth in the pork barrel scam.

    Astonished
    Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said that he was astonished by the answers of Napoles during the hearing, adding that the businesswoman’s statements were “surprising” to think that there are a lot of evidence and testimonies that implicate her in the controversy.

    “Yes I am [surprised]. So many people have justified the fact that they did it on her orders, that they are really her employees,” Belmonte told reporters.

    Rep. Maria Leonor Robredo of Camarines Sur third district said public trust can only be restored if the people are told what happened with their money.

    “The trust should be restored and the only way to restore that trust is for them to understand what really happened . . . Until it is answered, people will always doubt their leaders and the government,” Robredo said.

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    15 Comments

    1. Fernando Habito on

      Janet was a proven chronic liar with those truckload of documents and number of witnesses testifying about the scams.It is already expected that her reply was always to deny in order to get out to her crime.The Senate is just wasting time and money of the people in all the delaying tactics.What is needed right now is to garnish all the money and assets of JLN and her politicians cohorts such as Enrile, Estrada,Revilla Jr and 38 others to be locked up in jail,and suspend their political powers to make sure that this corruptions eradication campaign can show that it is working in order to regain the trust of the people to the government system.

    2. . To end pork barrel, vote buying and political dynasties, three optins must be considered by Filipinos. Reduce vote buying and political dynasty by 95% in the next election or two other elections. If vote buying and political dynasties are reduced by 95%, the PH will have elected candidates who are practically broke, who won their seats bcuz voters believed they can be trusted as they ran an honest campaign without the benefit of vote buying or political dynasty. Second, People’s Initiative sounds good but difficult to accomplish. Five million signatures are required and 3% of that must be registered voters in every legislative district. Third,the military (AFP) will be involved in exerting its own force as the ultimate protector of the people by allowing EDSA III if the people will stage one more People Power Revolution. Will it be door number 1, 2, or 3? My chose is door number 2.

    3. Rodney Supakscola on

      No no no!!! This is the way with rotten Philippines. Rich or poor everybody is after money by hook or by crook. Release poor Napoles. She is innocent like all the Law Makers and Law breakers in the country to day. Everybody wants to make money here. Money is before the God and God is money. Find some clean and honest law makers to pursue the matter and I guarantee that it might take more than 100 years from now on. Lets wait for the Goat’s balls to fall like that hungry fox.

    4. Maraming pera nasayang sa scam na to na sana sa mga maralita ipamahagi. Sana gamitin ni Napoles ang pagigiging makatao at makadiyos niya. Tama na mga corrupt maawa naman sila sa mga naghihirap na filipino.

    5. No matter who is the president/government officials; the Philippines is still showing the entire world how corrupt and slick we are. Archbishop Cruz is correct. Me? I would locked her up faster than a four o’clock train and throw away the key.

      • Purong G.I. Your point is well taken & Me? I hope that the four o’clock train will arrive soonest per your analogy on the comment by Archbishop Cruz that the court can best served justice for the people and of course jail J. Napoles.

    6. As an American that resides in the Philippines for several years I often find many of the corruption problems more of a fault being supported by the citizens in lieu of the government officials. My statement is not to offend Philippine citizens as I love the country, the people and all cultural aspects of such a wonderful nation. But at some point the people must stand up and demand justice. “The meek shall inherit the earth” is not just a spiritual statement it is also a fact. For years and certainly corruption after corruption uncovered simply continues to mock the good natured honorable character of the average citizens. If those assumed responsible for corruption are investigated and such investigation leads to senate hearings or court appearances one part of the process should be to freeze bank accounts and place liens on any suspected financial gain as a result of the charges. It is common knowledge throughout the world that when you get in someone’s wallet you can get to the truth quickly.

      No nation to include America is free of political corruption. But every nation has control as to how they elect to deal with injustice that falls under the umbrella of corruption.

      As I tell my wonderful and loving asawa there will come a day when corruption will be challenged seriously and those that are part of the corruption will think twice as they continue to mislead the people.

    7. the people that do the questioning are the police, thats their job. Here the police are a waste of time.

    8. Why does it come as a shock that she wouldnt answer questions. I cant understand why this country makes everything so complicated. In the uk if this had happened as soon as napolez was arrested she would have been questioned in depth & it would be on video for all to see & hear. You wouldnt have told her everything you know when she was questioned. This is one of the resons everything takes so long in this country. In 3 years time she will wont have benn found guilty it will still be going on.

    9. I think our bishops or priests doesn’t have any business and shut their mouth on any political matters and i wish our country have a separation of state and the church.

    10. “A few minutes into the hearing Napoles, after consulting PAO lawyers headed by Howard Areza, asked the committee for an executive session, citing the sensitivity of the issue.

      Guingona rejected the request, saying the issue does not concern national security.”

      Paano na ‘yan, Sec. De Lima? Baka narinig ng DFA si Sen. Guingona. Hindi naman pala “concern of national security” ang issue. Hindi kaya ibasura na ng DFA ang inyong petition against Revilla’s, Enrile’s and Estrada’s passports?

    11. I’m surprised that for all their bluster, Pinoys govt officials profess to not know how to make Napoles talk about her knowledge on the so-called prok barrel scam – the method is staring them right in their faces – PNP/AFP are well renowned worldwide in their skills in carrying out “SALVAGING OPERATIONS” , every Pinoy knows what this means … all the govt needs to do is organize a small unit and start liquidating relatives of Janet Napoles – maybe eliminate one each day – I will assure you that by day 3 Janet will be singing like crazy!

    12. Holy Spaghetti! The Senate Zarzuela De Moro-moro is now showing.
      For general political patronage rating! Welcome to the Pilipinz show….

    13. Pinoy Makabayan on

      Si Pnoy kasi na lang dapat ang tinawag para mag account kung saan niya ginastos ang pera ng bayan. Ireport kung saan ginastos ng mga oinagbigyan niyang senator at congressman ang perang ipinamudmod niya! Kung hindi niya ma justify…yan ang kasuhan…kasama siempre si Napoles et al!