MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Commissions in cash.
The chiefs of staff of some senators picked up millions of pesos in cash from the office of Janet Lim-Napoles representing their principals’ kickbacks from the pork barrel scam, a state witness told a Senate hearing on Thursday, September 12.
Benhur Luy, the only whistleblower in the pork barrel scam who is under the Witness Protection Program, is detailing to the Senate blue ribbon committee as of this posting how Napoles has accessed lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for ghost projects for about a decade now.
So far, he has revealed that:
- The chiefs of staff of lawmakers prepare the documents endorsing Napoles’ fake NGOs to get the PDAF from implementing agencies.
- Contacts at the implementing agencies – particularly TRC, Nabcor, NLDC, and ZREC – prepared the memorandum of agreement between their offices and Napoles’ NGOs.
- Napoles and the senators split the funds 50-50.
- The chiefs of staff go to Napoles’ office at Discovery Suites to collect the senators’ commission, with the COS sometimes getting commissions themselves of up to 1%, depending on Napoles’ preference.
- Sometimes, Napoles’ driver delivers the bagfuls of cash to the Senate, fetched by the senators’ chiefs of staff at the lobby.
- Some senators prefer fund transfers, from Napoles’ or NGOs’ banks to the banks of specified fronts or bagmen.
- Napoles has contacts at the budget department and implementing agencies to facilitate the release of funds to her NGOs.
Luy’s appearance at the Senate hearing was unexpected, with the blue ribbon committee having been previously told by the justice department that none of the whistleblowers would be coming.
Shortly before 11 am, however, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima announced to the committee that Luy was on his way to the room. She said she decided only late Wednesday evening that Luy should appear with him at the hearing.
Luy, wearing a bullet-proof vest, was accompanied by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
WATCH: Rappler’s livestream of the Senate hearing on the pork barrel scam
A cousin and longtime employee of Napoles, Luy has been under the custody of the DOJ since he was rescued by NBI agents. He was held against his will by Napoles and her brother Reynald “Jojo” Lim, for which the two have been charged.
READ: Where did Napoles detain Benhur Luy?
There are about a dozen whistleblowers, all of them former employees of Napoles, who working with the NBI in building a case against senators, congressmen, government officials, and Napoles in the systematic misuse of lawmakers’ PDAF.
Luy detailed how Napoles, his cousin, hired him initially as her personal assistant. Later on, she asked him to liquidate the expenses of her company, and eventually became the president of an NGO she started.
Luy said Napoles shut down 3 non-governmental organizations after these were discovered to have taken part in the fertilizer scam of 2003-2004.
By this time, Napoles had supposedly noticed Luy’s reliability in terms of managing finances and records, so she suggested that he’d be named president of a new foundation “para tumulong sa mahihirap” (to be able to help the poor).
Luy agreed to be listed as NGO head, even using the names of his classmates from his medical technology class as incorporators.
Three years later, Napoles reportedly told him his NGO was now “ripe” to transact with government, since audit regulations require than an NGO should have been operating for 3 years before it could be accredited to access PDAF-funded projects.
He said Napoles had since put up 20 NGOs, but only 8 were used to access the PDAF. The others were used to transact with the Department of Agrarian Reform.
Napoles talks to lawmakers on a regular basis about the release of their pork barrel funds, which were endorsed to her NGOs, Luy said. She said she is also in touch with implementing agencies, introducing him to them.
He detailed how Napoles’ office prepared draft endorsement letters that they then send to the chiefs of staff of the lawmakers.
The lawmakers’ staff then prepares the actual letter using official letterheads, submits these to the committee on appropriation in the House and the Senate finance committee, and then gives the letter to Napoles’ staff.
“Kami naman, tatawag kami sa DBM (Department of Budget and Management) kasi may contact po si Ms Napoles sa DBM.” (We call the DBM because Ms Napoles has a contact there.)
As of posting, the justice secretary and Luy’s lawyer, Levito Baligod, are making a presentation on how the funds are transferred from the agencies to Napoles’ NGOs, and how commissions are distributed.
Rappler has prepared an infographic on this as well.
INFOGRAPHIC: How gov’t funds end up with Napoles
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