MANILA, Philippines - The camp of Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains behind the so-called pork barrel fund scam, yesterday asked Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for “fairness” in the investigation into the reported anomaly.
“We are asking the DOJ (Department of Justice) to invite our client,” said Napoles’ lawyer Lorna Kapunan, noting that the businesswoman wants to present her evidence before the proper forum.
Napoles, owner of JLN Corp., has been accused by her distant relative and former trusted assistant Benhur Luy – the whistleblower in the scandal – as the leader of the racket that allegedly pocketed billions of pesos from the PDAF of several senators and congressmen.
The businesswoman has been linked to an alleged scam involving the diversion of pork barrel funds of several lawmakers into dummy non-government organizations (NGOs) purportedly for ghost projects worth over P10 billion.
Napoles has denied any wrongdoing. She even claimed that she did not deal with any of the five senators and more than 20 House members whose names have been dragged into the alleged P10-billion PDAF scam.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) reported that the Witness Protection Program (WPP) would cover Luy and Merlina Sunas, the two whistleblowers in the scam.
Napoles maintained that she had no hand in any government contract.
“Ms. Napoles is a victim of harassment and a target of extortionists. She therefore looks forward to a full blown investigation so that, if true that there were irregularities in the use of the PDAF, only those who are responsible are made liable,” one of Napoles’ lawyers said in a prepared statement.
According to Kapunan, she wrote to De Lima because there seemed to be “a one-sided investigation” being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Kapunan also urged De Lima to relieve from the pork barrel scam probe the NBI agents who were allegedly involved in the illegal arrest of Napoles’ brother Reynaldo Lim over the “trumped up” kidnapping complaint of Luy.
She identified the bureau agents as Rodante Berou, Redendor Valdez, Adrian Feudo, Winmar Louie de Ramos, Menandro Cariaga, Georgina Brahim, Dario Dones Jr., Marlon Baltazar and Rolando Argabioso.
Napoles’ camp said the NBI and De Lima were just “misled” into rescuing Luy and taking him into custody during a “fake rescue” last March at the condominium unit of Napoles’ brother Lim.
They said this was pointed out in the DOJ resolution dismissing the serious illegal detention charges filed by parents of Luy against Napoles and Lim.
With the NBI standing by Luy despite the DOJ resolution, they believe the bureau might not be the best agency to investigate the alleged pork barrel scam.
“Ms. Napoles fully supports, and is willing to cooperate with, the Department of Justice and Secretary De Lima in their investigation of the alleged P10-billion PDAF scam,” said Kapunan.
Napoles had clarified in a statement that her business interests lie in real estate and coal mining in Indonesia.
However, she claimed she was never an incorporator, trustee nor officer of the foundations allegedly involved in the diversion of the PDAF of lawmakers.
“She did not create nor cause the creation of these foundations. She has never signed for, nor represented these foundations in any way. A simple checking of the records of the Securities and Exchange Commission can easily confirm these facts,” her statement read.
Kapunan even dared Napoles’ critics to look for any government contract she had been involved in or benefited from.
“Show it to us,” Kapunan said.
Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez clarified yesterday a story in The STAR that part of his PDAF in 2009 was misused.
“I have not given P1.9 million of my PDAF to the DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications). In 2009, the DOTC offered to give computers to my district (second district of Cagayan de Oro) from their own funds, which I accepted,” he said.
“After one year of following up with the DOTC, the 55 computers were delivered to my office, the receipt of which I properly acknowledged. These computers were all distributed to various schools and barangay offices in my district. I have all the necessary receipts of acceptance signed by the various principals and barangay chairmen acknowledging receipt of these computers,” he said.
The story was based on findings of the Commission on Audit that some P61 million in PDAF of nine lawmakers was allocated to the DOTC, which supposedly used it to procure 762 units of desktop computers that are now reportedly missing.
Most of those implicated lawmakers are actually ex-lawmakers. The biggest PDAF allocation supposedly came from a former Quezon City congressman.
Rodriguez said the report about the alleged misuse of his PDAF “is false and malicious.”
“I demand an explanation and the necessary corrections from the DOTC and the Commission on Audit,” he said. With Jess Diaz