Napoles camp: Inclusion in list doesn’t equate guilt
MANILA, Philippines – There’s a reason why the camp of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles did not want her affidavit to go public: to avoid directly implicating people in the scam.
“We are not saying that we gave [5th District of Manila Representative Amado Bagatsing] money directly. We’re saying there’s an agent who transacted with us,” Napoles’ spokesman Bruce Rivera told Rappler on Tuesday, June 10.
Rivera was reacting to Bagatsing’s perjury case against Napoles filed before a Makati city prosecutor that same day.
Bagatsing accused Napoles of lying in an affidavit she submitted to the Justice Department, wherein she claimed Bagatsing, through a certain “Mina Nieva” got rebates for a project implemented by the Technology Resource Center (formerly the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center) in 2007.
Rivera said inclusion in the affidavit doesn’t equate to deals with Napoles herself. In many cases, he explained, Napoles dealt only with agents and never met the lawmakers.
“There are names that we know for a fact were just used [in the scam], but we were told to expose all transactions,” he said.
Rivera said they were hoping government could help them strengthen Napoles’ claims in the affidavit, and investigate the people implicated in the scam.
“It’s not our intention to ruin their reputation that’s why we were begging them not to release the affidavit because of course we need to ask the government for help because they have public records, we only have our private records,” he added.
Napoles’ “private records” consist of handwritten and coded notes she’s accumulated through the years. Rivera added that some names involved in the scam were not included in the affidavit because they lacked the evidence to back their claims.
“We’re not trigger happy. If we don’t have evidence, if we can’t stand by our claims, we don’t include the name,” said Rivera.
Napoles is accused of conniving with lawmakers and agents in stealing millions of pesos in priority development assistance funds (PDAF) or pork barrel funds through fake projects of bogus non-governmental organizations.
Already under detention for kidnapping charges, Napoles also faces graft and plunder charges before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan. Also facing the non-bailable charge of plunder are Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla, and Jinggoy Estrada.
Bagatsing had also said he will also be suing Napoles for damages before a Manila city prosecutor.
Bagatsing’s strongest claim, and his basis for filing perjury, is that it was impossible for him to release his PDAF in 2007 because the Budget Department only released his funds on January 2, 2008. Bagatsing is on his 6th term in Congress, first serving from 1987 to 1997, and again from 2007 until his term ends in 2016.
In response, Rivera said: “We already said in the affidavit: sometimes even before the special allotment release order (SARO) was released, we would already give money. Sometimes, we’d give money in advance and the project would eventually not fall through.”
Evidence Bagatsing filed before the city prosecutor include certified true copies of letters his office allegedly wrote to the TRC, ordering the release of P1 million ($23,000) for the Napoles-linked Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc.
“He’s saying his signature is forged – that in itself is proof that someone was using him. It’s possible that some lawmakers were fooled into signing these letters, or that these transactions were done behind their back,” added Rivera.
Napoles submitted her affidavit on the scam as part of her bid to turn state witness. The affidavit and a list of lawmakers allegedly implicated in the scam was submitted to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. De Lima eventually gave the Senate a copy of the affidavit, which in turn released it to media.
The Ombudsman has since denied Napoles’ immunity plea, but her camp will file a motion for reconsideration. – Rappler.com