2 more whistleblowers surface against Napoles
MANILA, Philippines - Two more employees of Janet Lim-Napoles have come forward and are willing to speak about what they know regarding JLN Corp, the company Napoles owns and allegedly used to pocket lawmakers' pork barrel, a lawyer said Friday, August 9.
The two will join 6 other whistleblowers who have already come forward.
According to Levito Baligod, counsel of the whistleblowers, he has already received handwritten statements from the new witnesses, as well as government-issued cards to verify their identities.
They are expected to shed more light on how the multi-million pork barrel scam supposedly worked.
"[They can share] personal knowledge of the operations of foundations and the relation of Mrs. Napoles to these foundations," Baligod told Korina Sanchez on dzMM radio on Friday.
"They were ordered to withdraw money from foundations [which they] brought to the office and gave to Mrs Napoles. Those were their narrations," he said.
Of the 6 other whistleblowers, Baligod said 4 were former presidents of foundations they were ordered to create. One of the 4, a cousin, was made a stockholder in the corporations of Napoles without the person's knowledge, Baligod said.
Two of those 4, Napoles' househelp, "had no idea their names were used in these foundations," Baligod said. "They just later found out in the course of their employment... their names are in the incorporation papers," he added.
The other two whistleblowers are Benhur Luy — Napoles' cousin and personal assistant, and Merlina Sunas, JLN's project coordinator.
All 6, plus the two new witnesses, were paid by Napoles as ordinary employees, said Baligod.
Whistleblowers started to share their testimonies after Luy spilled the beans following his alleged kidnapping by Napoles and her brother, Reynald Lim, her alleged partner in the scam.
Luy said the two detained him for months when they found out he wanted to create his own scam based on Napoles' scheme.
Luy accused Napoles of being behind an alleged syndicate involved in a reported massive scam that uses fake non-government organizations (NGOs) to get a hold of government money through ghost projects. The NBI is currently probing the scheme.
According to Baligod, the whistleblowers only found out their names were in incorporation papers through conversations in the JLN office at Discovery Suites.
They said a certain Evelyn de Leon, yet another employee of Napoles, are said to have signed for at least two of the whistleblowers on official documents.
"[She told them], 'I just signed your name so as not to disturb you,'" Baligod said.
But earlier, Lorna Kapunan, the lawyer of Napoles, said her client had no knowledge of this and it was Luy who had ordered the signing of the papers.
Baligod however disputed the claim, explaining Luy "is not the highest position in the office." Sunas is more senior than he is, said Baligod.
"Benhur is unable to dictate what those of higher positions should do. It just so happens that Benhur, because he is a relative of Mrs Napoles, was trusted with sensitive jobs. He merely followed her orders. He became the bookkeeper and recorder of inflow and outflow of all money coming from foundations into certain accounts owned by Mrs Napoles," he said.
Baligod said Luy's testimonies are based on his knowledge of the operations from 2003 when he was first hired, to 2012 when he was reportedly detained.
The Napoleses have asked the public not to pass judgment on their family before any official investigation on their case is concluded. They said they are willing to open their bank accounts and earlier questioned why the NBI has not yet tried to get their side.
They have insisted that their wealth comes from legitimate means, citing previous businesses, a coal mining business in Indonesia, and familiy inheritance.
Baligod explained whistleblowers are currently speaking to NBI investigators who are working to verify their statements, before getting the side of the Napoleses.
"It's normal that when you accuse someone, before the NBI and DOJ (Department of Justice) call the other side to explain, they have to make sure the allegations have basis. Because if there is no basis in Benhur's statements, then there is no need to disturb the Napoleses," he said.
"There will be a chance for [the Napoleses] to explain in the event that the NBI finds basis in the allegations."
"Mrs Napoles is the person of least interest to me," Baligod said. "My only hope is that the whistleblowers are able to help change this longtime misuse of government funds. We don't have any personal targets." - Rappler.com