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Alfredo Villamor: Napoles counsel was pork scam agent?

Bea Cupin
Alfredo Villamor: Napoles counsel was pork scam agent?
Lawyer Alfredo Villamor used to represent Napoles in her serious illegal detention case, and before that lawyered for JLN Corporation. He is named in her affidavit as one of the agents who was part of the pork barrel deals.

MANILA, Philippines – Lawyer Alfredo Villamor’s introduction to the media spotlight was anything but glamorous.

On October 20, 2013, alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles’ then lead counsel Lorna Kapunan resignedCollaborating counsel Villamor took over Napoles’ serious illegal detention case. 

It was a crucial day in Napoles’ plea for her to be granted bail – the last chance for the defense to grill Napoles’ accuser and former aide Benhur Luy. It was also the defense’s chance to finally present their own witnesses after months of waiting.

After the hearing, Villamor was hounded by reporters. He gave curt answers, eventually joking his way out of the ambush interview. Villamor – quite literally – ran all the way to the elevator, hoping to elude the media mob.

It was a wonder at the time why Villamor was such an elusive interviewee. 

But the release of Napoles’ affidavits on Monday, May 26, explained Villamor’s aversion to the media and eventual disappearance from the public eye.

Villamor was tagged as one of the agents in the pork barrel scam. According to Napoles’ sworn testimonies, Villamor was an agent in transactions with former Senator Loi Estrada. 

A certain “Freddie Villamor” was also named an agent of former senator Robert Jaworski and incumbent Senator Juan Ponce Enrile. It was not readily evident if “Freddie” and “Alfredo Villamor” are one and the same person.

Last week, Napoles lead counsel Stephen David announced that he would be taking over her serious illegal detention case. Asked what happened to Villamor, David told Rappler he didn’t know. Villamor has yet to formally withdraw as Napoles’ counsel in the case.

‘Atty Villamor’

Several times in the past two years, lawyer Alfredo Villamor could have prevented the pork barrel scam from going public.

PROTECTED. Benhur Luy walks along the Makati Hall of Justice escorted by NBI agents on October 25, 2013. File photo by Rappler

The first was on December 19, 2012, a few hours after a fuming Napoles ordered Luy jailed. Held in one of the conference rooms of JLN in Discovery Suites, Villamor allegedly told Benhur: “Ano ba yang pinaggagawa mo. Pinapakulong ka ni Jenny. Isulat mo nga mga transaction mo.” (What are you doing? Napoles wants you jailed. Write down all of your transactions.)

Napoles that day discovered that Luy was dipping his fingers into her own line of business – taking public funds through bogus non-governmental organizations and forging shady deals with agents. (READ: Napoles to Benhur: You stole my PDAF)

It was Benhur’s alleged illegal detention from December 2012 to March 2013 and his eventual rescue by National Bureau of Investigation agents that triggered his decision to reveal the pork barrel scam. 

When Kapunan stepped down, it was Villamor who grilled Luy on the stand. During a heated exchange between the defense lawyer and Luy, Villamor quipped, “Magkaibigan kami nito!” (We’re friends.)

Even before his one-liner, Luy mentioned Villamor several times during his testimonies – all the while the lawyer was sitting on the defense’s side.

‘Maawa ka kay Jenny’

Villamor is allegedly well-connected – at least, according to Luy’s testimony. Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim used Villamor to threaten Luy several times. First, Luy said Napoles – through Villamor – sent police from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to jail him.

The same night, Luy said Villamor was able to produce bank statements he had never seen before because “he also represents people from the banking industry.”

HAPPIER TIMES. Janet Lim-Napoles, left (standing), rubs elbows with senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla in this photo taken during a party in Estrada's favorite hangout in San Juan.

While Luy was allegedly detained, Villamor on February 21, 2013, warned Napoles’ brother and co-accused Reynald Lim: “Lagot tayo kung i-charge tayo ni Benhur ng illegal detention.” (We’re in trouble if Benhur charges us with serious illegal detention.)

But Lim, who is still at-large, ignored him and didn’t pay attention, confident that Luy would never turn his back on Napoles.

Villamor’s warning proved true when Luy was taken by the NBI agents from Napoles’ condominium in Bonifacio Global City on March 22, 2013. Luy said he did not want to go with authorities at first, wary that these were the armed men that “mayors, senators” sent to get rid of him. It was Villamor’s remark from almost a month ago that made him realize he was not in danger.

Lim was arrested and later put under hospital arrest because of heart problems. He would be released later and would go into hiding. Luy said he went to St Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig so he could attend inquest proceedings against Lim.

That night, Villamor made a single plea to Luy: “Benhur, maawa ka naman kay Jenny. Maawa ka naman sa pamilya ni Jenny.” (Benhur, have mercy on Jenny [Napoles]. Have mercy on the family of Jenny.) – Rappler.com

 

Note: Unless specified, quotes attributed to Villamor were based on Luy’s testimony before the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 on October 25, 2013, October 29, 2013 and October 30, 2013 during the hearing for Napoles’ motion to be granted bail.

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.