Sandiganbayan subpoenas banks with accounts of ‘pork’ informers

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The Sandiganbayan’s First Division has ordered representatives from five banks to appear before the court in Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.’s bail hearing today.

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The order came after the camp of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles asked the anti-graft court to issue subpoenas to several banks for them to be able to look into bank histories, records and transactions of pork barrel scam whistleblowers Merlina Suñas, Marina Sula and Benhur Luy, Napoles’ cousin and former employee.

The subpoenas duces tecum/ad testificandum were addressed to legal departments of BDO Unibank Inc., Metropolitan Bank & TCO (Metrobank), Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), United Coconut Planters (UCPB), Landbank of the Philippines (Landbank)-Sogod and Landbank-Decs both in Malate, Manila.

Luy, Sula and Suñas will be the next to testify in Revilla’s bail hearing over his plunder charge, where he is accused of amassing P224 million in kickbacks by pouring his pork barrel funds into bogus projects of non-government organizations controlled by Napoles.

The businesswoman from Basilan is the alleged brains behind the pork barrel scam and is facing plunder and graft charges along with three senators—Revilla, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile.

In a written request for a subpoena last July 21, Napoles’ camp listed 15 different bank account numbers for Luy at the BPI, Metrobank and UCPB.

Merlina Suñas has two accounts at Metrobank and one at UCPB and Sula, two accounts at Landbank and one at Metrobank.

Also, the defense requested a subpoena to be issued for it to be able to open the bank records of Luy’s mother Gertrudes and his brother Arthur.

“Humingi ako ng subpoena kasi gusto kong makuha ung mga bank transactions ni Benhur Luy para makita natin kung san napunta ung pera sa PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel] . . . malaman natin sinong kumita [I asked for a subpoena because I want to get the bank transactions of Benhur Luy so that we will be able to see where the PDAF or pork barrel went],” Napoles’ lawyer Stephen David told reporters after Revilla’s bail hearing last Thursday.

He requested the subpoena in open court and also told reporters that he wanted the bank accounts but clarified that he is not accusing anyone.

Recently, the Court of Appeals (CA) Special 2nd Division allowed the government to scrutinize Enrile, Estrada and Revilla’s bank accounts.

It had ordered frozen the bank accounts of Napoles and her husband Jaime and their children Jo Christine, James Christopher, John Christian, Jeane and Jane.

Also frozen were the bank accounts of whistleblower Luy, his mother Gertrudes and brother Arthur; Suñas; Sula; Evelyn Ditchon de Leon; Nova Kaye Dulay Batal; Ronald Lim; and Simonette Briones.

Revilla and Estrada, both detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame in Quezon City, are asking the Sandiganbayan to let them post bail for their temporary freedom over the non-bailable plunder charge.

The court has denied Enrile’s plea that an amount be set for his bail for being premature.

He was allowed to extend his stay at the PNP General Hospital pending more medical tests for his plea for hospital arrest.

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