^

Headlines

Napoles to name 3 more senators

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles is set to add the names of three more senators to her list of lawmakers and officials with whom she had reportedly connived to embezzle billions of pesos in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), her lawyer said yesterday.

In an interview with [email protected], Bruce Rivera said he was sure more senators and congressmen would be added to the list. He did not say if the lawmakers were incumbent.

Rivera said Napoles discovered the names of the three while checking her transaction records from as far back as 2000.

“It is because the transactions are not just in 2007-2009. They started in 2000. So therefore it was a very long list of transactions and you tend to forget, she does not have a photographic memory that you know every nook and cranny,” he said. 

Napoles still has checks, vouchers and records to back up her claims of dealing with lawmakers, Rivera said.

He said his client is willing to tell all before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee but he urged lawmakers linked to the scam to inhibit themselves.

“It is a moral plea because we don’t want it to be an accusatorial (hearing). If they really just want to grandstand and just accuse her and tell her she’s a liar, they can do that in the ombudsman,” he said.

He also said that since Napoles does not know how to use a computer, her records were largely different from those prepared and kept by main whistle-blower Benhur Luy.

“She keeps a list using her own handwriting and a piece of paper. It is not in a book. She wrote them down. She has not only checks but vouchers,” he told ANC.

Rivera said the Napoles family gave the initial list of lawmakers to rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson but were dissatisfied with the pace of Lacson’s investigation into the matter.

No lying under oath

Rivera also denied that Napoles lied under oath when she told the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing last year that she did not know any of the lawmakers being linked to the scam.

He said that before her Senate appearance, Napoles had been in jail at Fort Sto. Domingo for a serious illegal detention charge and had not been with her family for some time.

Napoles also had a falling out with lawyer Lorna Kapunan before she was to face the Senate investigation, Rivera said.

“She was lost and disoriented and I was not yet here. I was in the United States. I was supposed to return Nov. 18 and the hearing was Nov. 9. She was really lost,” Rivera said.

 lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office represented Napoles at that time, he said.

He also reiterated that Napoles did not invent the PDAF scam and that she only realized the transactions were anomalous when the alleged “rebates” got too big. As a mere high school graduate, Napoles could not have perpetrated a complex scheme like the PDAF scam. “The PDAF scam was already there pero hindi lang masyadong garapalan (but it was not that brazen).”

“Initially, of course, when she entered the transactions, she understood that it is normal, even in private corporations, when you enter into a contract or even supply something there is always a margin of profit. So it is usually 5-10 percent and then you also give a little something to those who helped facilitate to get the project,” Rivera said.

Whistle-blowers earlier said Napoles promised senators and congressmen as much as a 50 percent cut of whatever pork barrel funds were funneled to her NGOs.

“When she entered the PDAF, she was thinking that this was just part of it. It started with 10 percent (kickbacks) until it became 20 percent, then 30 percent, then 40 percent and then 50 percent. She said it was too much because she could not deliver anymore. It reached a point that she knew something was wrong,” he added.

The lawyer said lawmakers did not call the commissions “kickbacks” but “rebates.”

Rivera also said that of the 82 NGOs linked by the Commission on Audit to the PDAF scam, only eight were associated with Napoles.

“She could not have perpetrated anything if there was no senator or congressman who offered the SARO (special allotment release order) for her use, there is no government implementing agency who coordinated with the congressman who chose NGOs. In fact, her first transaction was not her NGO but another person and other NGOs that she had to pay to be used,” he said.

“You cannot do that without the participation of the public officials. This is a public crime involving public funds. She was there but she cannot do it without these people having started it,” he added.

Rivera also clarified that the inclusion of Sen. JV Ejercito in the list was an error made by the encoder and that they had asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to strike out Ejercito’s name from the list.

He said Napoles was joking about including Ejercito in the list since she knew about the feud between Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and Ejercito. The two are half-brothers.

“I am very thankful that the camp of Ms. Napoles has issued a statement through attorney (Bruce) Rivera, saying that I am not really in the list,” Ejercito said in reaction to Rivera’s clarification.  “I am confident about that.”

Baseless

At the DOJ, Secretary Leila de Lima said there was no basis for some quarters to insinuate that she was “sleeping with the enemy.”

“I don’t think anyone can use me. I don’t think anyone can influence me in the discharge of my mandate,” she stressed.

“It’s quite unfair for me because I’m just doing my job to find out the truth about this matter,” she told reporters in an ambush interview.

De Lima also reiterated the need for the DOJ to validate the information from Napoles before making this public.

“It doesn’t mean that if we talk to Mrs. Napoles or accept her more comprehensive affidavit, we already believe in everything she says… I don’t want to vet in order to assist Mrs. Napoles,” the DOJ chief pointed out.

De Lima was reacting to Sen. Francis Escudero’s questioning her insistence on having information provided by Napoles verified.

The senator said De Lima should just let the sworn statement stand or fall on its own.

“We need to know exactly what Mrs. Napoles is saying so we can establish if it’s true or not. I’m not committing, but at least give me that opportunity, give me enough space to fulfill my mandate, which is truth-seeking,” she said.

She also said Rivera has promised to submit a more comprehensive affidavit to the DOJ either tomorrow or Thursday.

She also confirmed that Luy has a list of politicians and officials who had allegedly benefited from the pork barrel scam.

“I don’t think that Benhur doesn’t have a list because he has accounting records. There are names, transactions, figures and other entries in the hard drive so I think it’s not accurate to say that Benhur did not keep his own list,” she said, debunking a claim earlier made by his former lawyer Levito Baligod that Luy did not have a list.

‘Dagdag-bawas’

In linking numerous lawmakers and officials to the PDAF scam, Napoles may be resorting to “dagdag-bawas” (padding-shaving), said Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III.

He said proof of this was Ejercito’s being initially included in the list.

“I find this story incredible. They typed the list, reviewed it before releasing it. They should have taken out JV’s name when they reviewed their list,” he said.

He said another indication of dagdag-bawas is the “glaring” difference between the Napoles list that De Lima has turned over to the Senate and the one given by Napoles’ husband to Lacson. Albano noted that both lists were typewritten.

However, in the list De Lima turned over to the Senate, there were four or five additional handwritten entries obviously made by Napoles, he said.

“And now they are saying that they will add more names in the affidavit that they will give to Secretary De Lima within the week. Who will believe her now?” he said.

The name of Albano’s father reportedly came up in the digital files of Luy, but Albano said he and his father had “not allocated even a peso to Napoles or any foundation.”

Rep. Terry Ridon said he is wondering why Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is not included in the Napoles list when at least two COA reports show that millions of his PDAF had ended up in a Napoles foundation. 

For members of the so-called independent bloc in the House of Representatives, the “Napoles list” released by De Lima raised more questions than answers and bolstered suspicions that it was sanitized or manipulated.

“We were all made to believe that what the DOJ had was supposedly the real one, of all the lists that have been circulating, but people are getting more confused or even insulted with all these retractions and credible denials from some of those in the list,” Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, leader of the bloc, said.

The lawmaker said Malacañang appeared to be bent on pinning down only opposition figures, and panicked when Napoles came out with more names.

“Secretary De Lima is very clearly mishandling the whole case,” Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said.

“She said she was verifying and vetting the least, which to my mind, she has no business of doing so, is synonymous to manipulating the list,” he said.

Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino Jr. for his part, dismissed the inclusion of his name in Luy’s list, saying it was his political foes’ “desperate attempt to put him in a bad light.” 

“I again assure our constituents that all of our PDAF projects were duly implemented with utmost transparency,” Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil, said. “Let justice take its course.”

Former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said it was “a terribly utter falsehood for anyone to allege” that he had received kickbacks for anomalous projects from Luy or from anyone else. With Paolo Romero, Perseus Echeminada, Eva Visperas, Jess Diaz, Christina Mendez

DE LIMA EJERCITO LIMA LIST LUY MRS. NAPOLES NAPOLES PDAF RIVERA SCAM
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with