Napoles ready to face probe on PDAF ‘scam’ – lawyer

The alleged brains behind the pork barrel syndicate says the whistleblower is a former errand boy who stole from her and is hooked on drugs

ERRAND BOY. Atty Bruce Rivera, lawyer of Janet Lim-Napoles, shows photo of Benhur Luy, the whistle blower of the P10 billion pork barrel scam. Photo by Ace Tamayo/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The alleged brains behind the pork barrel scam, Janet Lim-Napoles, denied her involvement in the supposed misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of several lawmakers worth billions of pesos.

“I would like to put on record that I have nothing to do with the so-called misuse of senators’ and congressmen’s PDAF using bogus NGOs (non-governmental organizations), as alleged in the series of Inquirer reports,” Napoles said in a statement read by her lawyer, Atty Bruce Rivera, at a press conference on Wednesday, July 17.

Rivera said his client is “ready to face any investigation” since Napoles now wants to have “a quiet life.”

Napoles said the reports by the Inquirer, which “vilified and demonized” her, were based merely on the “sworn affidavits by members of Luy’s [the scam whistleblower] family made before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).”

“My family, especially my children, have already been dragged by the false and malicious reports of one newspaper who (sic) has the habit of sensationalizing stories at the expense of truth and fairness,” Napoles said in her statement.

Napoles also appealed to the media to be fair and accurate in their reporting as she now fears for the security of herself and her family.

“I only pray and hope that nothing bad will happen to us amid the ongoing media bashing against myself and my family,” Napoles said.

Benhur an errand boy

Napoles confirmed that whistleblower, Benhur Luy, is her relative who “used to do errands” for her until December 2012, when Benhur allegedly stole P 300,000, which should have been deposited to her bank account.

According to Napoles, she also discovered Benhur Luy securing loans totaling P5.5 million using her name and without her authorization.

“I was supposed to charge him in court for qualified theft, but my brothers tried to intervene and Benhur, himself, wrote a letter of apology and volunteered to undergo a spiritual retreat to reform himself,” Napoles added in her statement.

Napoles also claimed in her statement that Luy was hooked on illegal drugs. Her lawyer showed photos of Luy “high on ecstasy.” The photos were obtained from the laptop, which was “voluntarily given by Benhur to one of Napoles’ employees.

P300-million extortion

Napoles also disclosed that, unknown to her, Luy and his family have been talking to their lawyer, Atty Levito Baligod, to extort money from her in exchange for a “quiet life.”

“They hatched a scenario of serious illegal detention and tried to paint a motive by implicating me in multimillion-peso anomalies such as the fertilizer fund scam and the Malampaya fund scam of which I have absolutely nothing to do with,” Napoles said in her statement.

Napoles added her suspicion of blackmail was confirmed when her brother’s lawyer, Atty Alfredo Villamor, met with Baligod, who allegedly demanded P38 million in exchange for dropping the charges against her and sparing her from negative publicity in the media.

Napoles added that on March 27, 2013, when she met with Baligod together with Villamore, Baligod again tried to extort almost P300 million in exchange for dropping all the charges and a quiet life.

“On top of the P300 million, Atty Baligod also demanded I facilitate the issuance of Canadian visas for all the Luy family plus a pocket money amounting to US $1.5 million and the setting up of a pharmacy that will serve as the business of the youngest Luy sibling who is not going to Canada,” Napoles said in her statement.  

Ongoing investigation

On Monday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that upon learning of Luy’s allegations in March, she “constituted a very small team of trusted investigators,” which included National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) director Nonnatus Rojas to conduct an investigation on the alleged scheme.

She said they kept the investigation “under wraps” because they did not want to make any mistakes, given the “gravity” of the exposé.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said Malacañang believes the NBI can conduct a “thorough and impartial” investigation on the exposé and that the investigation should be allowed to first “take its course.”

“The President is always very strict and this is something that he has repeated to us — that government should never accuse without evidence and that we should never proffer accusations without proof. The investigation will settle that,” Valte said.

De Lima also announced that Luy and his family will be placed under the Witness Protection Program (WPP) anytime.

READ: DOJ offers protection to scam whistleblower, family

Meanwhile, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Tuesday also created a 6-person special team of investigators, which will conduct a parallel investigation together with the NBI.

Ombudsman records also disclosed that Napoles, Luy, and several NGO officers are facing complaints in the “fertilizer fund scam” pending with the office. – Rappler.com