Senate probe: ‘Napoles shredded evidence’
MANILA, Philippines – “You think if there were actually kickbacks, the chiefs of staff and senators would sign the vouchers? There are no such vouchers…not that type of money giving.”
This was how alleged syndicate head Janet Napoles denied before the Senate on Thursday, November 7, that she gave kickbacks to lawmakers and their staff when accessing their pork barrel.
And this was how a whistleblower – her former employee – countered her: There were so many vouchers, Napoles bought paper shredders to destroy those evidence.
"She said all evidence must be shredded so in case there is a search warrant they won't find anything that will connect her to lawmakers and NGOs," Marina Sula said at the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing.
The 49-year-old Napoles is accused of conniving with lawmakers to channel their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to her bogus non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in exchange for hefty kickbacks.
Whistleblowers allege that Napoles ordered the issuance of vouchers to lawmakers and their staff for record-keeping by her company, JLN Corporation, as evidence that kickbacks had been given to lawmakers.
Shredders from S&R
Whistleblowers, who countered Napoles’ alleged lies every step of the way during the hearing, had insisted that the vouchers, along with endorsement letters and signed Memorandums of Agreement, formed the evidence of their transactions with government officials.
Sula said that when the scam was exposed, Napoles ordered her employees and two children – Jo Christine and James Christopher – to shred the vouchers and others documents.
Napoles reportedly had 3 large shredders transferred to her home at Pacific Plaza in Taguig City.
“Because of the sheer number of documents we had to shred, [Napoles] bought a heavy duty shredder so it wouldn't overheat," Sula said.
The former employee said Napoles even had to buy additional smaller shredders at the nearby S&R.
Another former JLN Corporation employee, Merlina Suñas, testified she "personally handed over vouchers" to lawmakers' staff members.
Napoles' former personal assistant Benhur Luy also said he personally delivered money to homes of staff members and transferred funds to bank accounts of government officials.
Luy said he got the addresses and bank account numbers from Napoles.
Napoles denied giving commissions to officials of implementing agencies with whom she allegedly worked with to facilitate the release of government funds.
But Luy said he has seen Napoles hand money to government officials like Alan Javellana of National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) and Antonio Ortiz of the Technology Resource Center (TRC).
"We have 3 vaults. Because I’m the finance officer, I know we have money in the office. Once she instructs us to prepare [the implementing agency's] 10% commission, I type it out already, have it checked by seniors or her daughter Jo Chrsitine, then we prepare it," he said.
"Then I bring [the money to the office]…. Sometimes I come with her to meet the person and I come with her in handing over the paper bag [with cash]."
Napoles denied the claim and argued Luy was not her chief financial officer and only worked in administration and was "never at the office."
Luy said Napoles also benefitted from budget insertions and "extra savings" aside from the PDAF. Earlier, the Department of Justice said it would file a separate batch of cases related to other government funds plundered by Napoles that were not related to the pork barrel or the multi-billion peso Malampaya Fund. – Rappler.com