MANILA, Philippines – “Nakakaawa nga ho ang mga senador na nada-drag ang pangalan.” (I pity the senators whose names are being dragged here.)
Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles denied any involvement in the pork barrel scam in her testimony before the Senate on Thursday, November 7. Her statement on pitying the implicated senators drew a collective “Oooohhh…” from the Senate gallery.
At times meek and sometimes turning feisty, Napoles denied ordering her former employees to set up bogus non-governmental organizations, and participating in a scheme where she allegedly got 35% of projects funded by lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Teofisto “TG” Guingona III repeatedly asked Napoles about the allegations made by her aides-turned-whistleblowers, who were also present in the hearing.
Guingona said, “Is that possible they will make foundations without your knowledge? What for?”
Napoles said, “Hindi ko po alam.” (I don’t know.)
Yet Napoles’ second cousin and principal whistleblower Benhur Luy was quick to challenge Napoles’ denials.
Luy said, “Nagsisinungaling siya.” (She is lying.)
Whistleblowers Merlina Suña and Marina Sula backed Luy up, saying Napoles ordered them to create fake NGOs that allowed her to pocket millions of pesos from the PDAF.
Napoles is accused of conniving with lawmakers to channel their PDAF to her fake NGOs in exchange for kickbacks. She and Sen Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, and Juan Ponce Enrile, and 34 others face a plunder complaint over the scam. The 3 senators inhibited themselves from the hearing.
‘No cuts, no kickbacks’
“Hindi po totoo iyan.” (That is not true).
She also denied that she would give the lawmakers a down payment of 50% upon the submission of the project listing to the budget department, and the other 50% upon the department’s release of the Special Allotment Release Order.
Suñas rebutted her. “It’s true. We wouldn’t know of the division [of the money] if she did not tell us,” she said in Filipino.
Luy made a suggestion to prove that Napoles was in touch with the lawmakers.
“Pwede nating ipa-subpoena ang telco, makikita po natin ang communication niya sa phone,” Luy said. (We can subpoena the telco to show her communication records.)
Guingona noted Luy’s suggestion.
‘I set up just mom’s NGO’
Napoles also denied asking her employees to make 20 fake NGOs. Guingona ticked off the names of the NGOs she allegedly ran and she denied owning each of them.
This prompted Sulas to say, “It’s true. She forged [NGO records]. She advised me to form 20 NGOs and one NGO named after her mother, the Magdalena Luy-Lim Divine Mercy Foundation.”
Napoles said only the Magdalena Foundation named after her mother is hers. “It’s what we use for outreach, to help priests.”
Guingona pressed her, “These people are with you in work, some of the whistleblowers are your relatives. How can you say it’s not true?”
Napoles said, “Hindi ko po alam ano ang gusto nilang sabihin. Tutal nademanda na nila, nasa Ombudsman na po iyon.” (I don’t know what they want to say. Anyway, they already filed a case, it’s in the Ombudsman.)
The alleged mastermind also refused to give details about her business, only saying her JLN Corporation is into trading. She said she will just comment before the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), which filed a tax evasion against her, her husband and daughter.
“Pagkatapos na lang po ng kaso namin. Doon na lang namin sasagutin,” We will just respond after our case. We will answer it there.)
Napoles repeatedly used the line when asked other questions.
The hearing is still ongoing as of posting time. – Rappler.com