Napoles: Senator, former DAR chief, ex-DA Usec taught me the ropes
In yesterday’s papers, Janet Lim-Napoles, primary suspect in the P10-billion PDAF scam, insisted that she was not the brains behind it and pointed instead to another.
Her lawyer, Bruce Rivera, said “she is not the most guilty.” That being the case, she can qualify as a state witness, Rivera added.
Whether she is “not the most guilty” and, therefore, qualified to be a state witness, is for the Sandiganbayan to decide.
The Sandiganbyan picks from a list of possible state witnesses given by the Ombudsman.
Ironically, there may be some truth to Napoles’ statement that she was not the mastermind of the massive theft of the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The “brains” are three highly prominent government officials who had advised Napoles on the intricacies of fund releases, according to a highly reliable source who requested anonymity.
In her signed affidavit, Napoles narrated the roles the “brains” had played in the PDAF scam, the source told The Manila Times on Thursday.
The three (a leading senator and prominent member of the Liberal Party, an Agriculture undersecretary and an erstwhile secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform or DAR) “are my mentors. They instructed me about the procedures and taught me the process of how to undertake the PDAF cycle,” the source quoting Napoles said.
“The former DAR secretary and the current Agriculture undersecretary who is related to a senator were in constant communications with me,” Napoles added.
Some Malacañang officials were not spared either. A ranking official of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is alleged to have taught Napoles the ropes. “[Name of DBM official] was the one who taught me how to follow the procedures at the DBM in order to expedite the releases of the funds,” said the source quoting from the Napoles affidavit. Napoles added that she “followed up the releases” with another ranking DBM official.
Yet another Palace factotum was also mentioned in her affidavit. Wrote Napoles, “[Name of the Palace official] is one of my contacts in Malacañang and who was introduced to me by [name of a Public Relations practitioner]. We casually know each other.” She said she “talks” to the PR guy “for advice every now and then.”
Some 11 senators belonging to the administration and opposition were also implicated in the Napoles affidavit.
In that same affidavit, the jailed businesswoman recounted that she met one of the three senators indicted by the Ombudsman in a social function and that she followed up on the status of the documents with his Chief of Staff.
Napoles, according to the source, decided to come out in the open and name names when the people whom she considered friends abandoned her. She was blaming them for her having contracted urinary tract infection (UTI), “kasi marumi ang facilities [because the facilities in Santa Rosa are dirty],” he explained. Napoles was being held at Fort Santo Domingo in Santa Rosa City, Laguna, until she underwent major surgery in a government hospital on Tuesday.
She had asked “them” for help in securing a hospital arrest for her and a transfer of venue. Both requests were denied by the courts. Napoles then decided to go public and talked to the government to reveal what she knows of the theft of the government funds, the source said.
On Thursday, former senator Panfilo ‘Ping” Lacson disclosed that in March this year, Jimmy Napoles, husband of Janet, gave him documents and a list of lawmakers who allegedly received kickbacks from ghost projects funded by PDAF. Lacson said the number of senators included in the list could constitute a quorum. With the Senate having 24 members, at least 13 are needed to make a quorum.
But Senate President Franklin Drilon cautioned against using the Napoles list to attack the chamber.
“If the list is supported by credible documentary evidence, please go ahead. Pero kung listahan lang naman, siguro naman pag-ingatan naman natin ang institusyon ng Senado [But if it’s just a mere list, I believe we should preserve the Senate as an institution],” he said in a news briefing also on Thursday.
Drilon insisted that every testimony should be backed up by evidence and that the best evidence is the document itself.
The senator also expressed confidence that his name is not on the Napoles list because, according to him, not a single centavo of his PDAF went to any questionable non-government organization (NGO).
“I wish to say once more that insofar as I am concerned, my name is not and will never be [on ] any list because I have not assigned a single peso of my PDAF to any NGO of Mrs. Janet Napoles” he said.