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Napoles daughter withdraws as party-list nominee

MANILA, Philippines - The daughter of the alleged brains behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam has given up her seat as representative of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Congress.

The OFW Family party-list yesterday said that Jo Christine Napoles had already withdrawn her nomination as the second representative of the sectoral group.

She is the daughter of Janet Lim Napoles, now in the center of controversy over allegations that her firm defrauded the government of billions of pesos through ghost projects.

OFW Family party-list Rep. Roy Señeres said the younger Napoles decided to withdraw to spare their group from the controversy associated with her mother.

Señeres, however, did not say who would replace the younger Napoles. He only said the issue will be decided by the OFW Family party-list leadership and membership in a meeting to be held soon.

Señeres said the younger Napoles would remain in the party-list and continue to hold her post as president of the group’s chapter in Metro Manila to help distressed OFWs.

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“She would be very busy with OFW issues. We know she could contribute a lot to our mission and advocacy,” Señeres said.

The party-list group earlier selected Napoles as replacement for Johnny Revilla, who was disqualified due to citizenship issues.

The OFW Family party-list, through senior member Eduardo Morales, has filed a petition asking the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal to disqualify Revilla for his failure to renounce his American citizenship.

According to Seneres, the younger Napoles was a low profile person and has been a friend of his two children from way back in their college days.

Seneres said he did not personally know Jo’s mother and only learned from the media the allegations against her.

Janet Napoles is currently being questioned over allegations of having set up fake non-government organizations to corner the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of lawmakers.

Several lawmakers, including some administration senators, had been dragged over the issue.

A senior administration lawmaker, on the other hand, called on critics to spare President Aquino from the pork barrel mess.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said critics should stop demonizing the Presidential Social Fund (PSF) by branding it as “presidential pork” just to drag Aquino into the pork barrel scam.

The PSF, taken from earnings of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., is expected to exceed P2.4 billion this year.

Barzaga said every chief executive traditionally has the PSF intended to extend valuable assistance to the needy, medical assistance for indigents, educational support, aid to soldiers wounded in fighting for the country, among others.

He explained local chief executives like mayors and governors have also budgetary items such as emergency and extraordinary expenses, aid to individuals in crisis situations (AICS).

“All these appropriations like the PSF are lump sum budgetary items and are intended to address the immediate needs of their poor constituents. They have never been branded as pork barrel of the mayors or governors,” Barzaga said.

He said the pork barrel refers to the budgetary allocations for members of Congress. -Paolo Romero

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