Napoles: I'm not wealthy, 'just right'
MANILA, Philippines – Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles denied she is wealthy, but rather "tama lang sa buhay (comfortable in life)."
Yet at the same Senate hearing on Wednesday, November 7, she admitted to owning multi-million-peso properties with her family.
And then again, she either refused to name the companies that earned her enough to buy each of these properties or denied knowing how much these companies earned.
Watch the video below.
Napoles is accused of conniving with lawmakers to channel their pork barrel to her bogus non-governmental organizations in exchange for hefty kickbacks. Whistleblowers point to the government funds she plundered as the source of her massive wealth that has funded her lavish lifestyle.
The 49-year-old alleged syndicate head admitted that she bought the luxurious Ritz-Carlton apartment in downtown Los Angeles.
The P80-million property, registered under the name of her daughter Jeane Napoles, was first reported by Rappler and has since been put on sale. (READ: Napoles daughter owns P80-M LA property and After gov’t looks to seize assets, Napoles sells LA condo)
During the hearing, Napoles insisted the condo was purchased with earnings from her husband Jaime “Jimmy” Napoles’ coal business in Indonesia. She said this was the family’s main source of income.
She, however, refused to name the company, claiming she doesn't know how much it earns.
Napoles was also asked about a property in Forbes Park in Makati City that she reportedly owns, and which her husband indicated as his residence in an affidavit when he sued a maid for allegedly stealing from them. (READ: Napoles may join ex-maid in jail)
"That's my husband's affidavit so I don't know [about the property]," she said.
Rappler reported that the 4,000-square-meter property, listed under La Roca Properties, is supposedly being rented out by Napoles to a priest that she is also supporting. (READ: Priest rents Napoles Forbes Park house and How is Janet Napoles hiding her properties?)
Napoles said she does not live in that house but admitted that her brother William Lim is listed as one of the incorporators of La Roca.
She also said the mausoleum of her mother Magdalena Luy Lim at Heritage Park in Taguig is not worth P30 million, but less than P10 million. She said she and her 4 siblings shared the cost of acquiring the lot and building the structure.
She refused to say what businesses her siblings are engaged in. (READ: Napoles kin own P400-M US properties)
Throughout the hearing, Napoles distanced herself from her husband's activities.
When asked about her husband's attempt to join Congress through a party-list organization called Smile, she said she doesn't know why her husband decided to join politics. Later, she said he did so for "public service." (Her daughter Jo Christine also tried to join the party list this year.)
Napoles also denied knowing that Smile party list was mentioned twice in the Hello Garci tapes, phone calls where a woman sounding like President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was discussing with an election commissioner how to ensure her victory in the 2004 elections.
Looking impatient, Napoles was noticeably more evasive after lunch break, invoking her right against self-incrimination to avoid most questions. At other times, she mostly responded, in Filipino, with "I don't know" or "I don't remember" or “The case is with the Ombudsman now.”
Her demeanor clearly frustrated several senators, who repeatedly hit her for her "selective memory" and "evasiveness," with a number of them commenting Napoles was intelligent and sharp and was knowingly avoiding questions.
Napoles also contradicted several statements she made in past media interviews, including one wherein she said it was her personal assistant turned whistleblower Benhur Luy who was responsible for the whole scam.
She denied ever having any disagreements with Luy – who maintains Napoles kidnapped him, causing him to spill the beans on the scheme – and said she did not know why all the people she worked with are suddenly lying and going against her. – Rappler.com