MANILA, Philippines – It’s not so much what she said, but what she didn’t say.
More than two months after Manila 5th District Representative Amado Bagatsing filed a perjury case against alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, the controversial figure said the lawmaker never really transacted with her.
In a statement read by her lawyer and spokesman, Bruce Rivera, on Tuesday, August 19, Napoles said she "never stated that Rep Bagatsing received or authorized anyone to receive on his behalf to receive rebates or any commissions from the PDAF transactions involving NGOs connected to me.”
On June 10, Bagatsing filed a perjury case against Napoles for allegedly implying that he was involved in the scam.
A day after the case was filed, Rivera told Rappler that inclusion in the notorious “Napoles list” doesn’t automatically equate to guilt. “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,” Rivera said then.
In a May 26 affidavit, Napoles tagged a certain “Mina Nieva” as one of her agents in the scam.
“Si Mina Nieva ang kumuha ng rebate para doon sa project na inimplement ng TRC noong mga 2007 (Mina Nieva got the rebate for the project implemented by the Technology Resource Center in 2007),” Napoles wrote in her affidavit.
"There was never anything in the statement (affidavit) that I ever stated or insinuated that Rep. Bagatsing was directly or indirectly involved or participated in the rebate,” said Napoles in her August 19 statement.
Rivera told reporters they had spoken to Bagatsing during a hearing for the perjury case wherein they clarified his "inclusion" in the list.
Napoles' spokesman said they were told the case would be dropped as long as the Napoles camp clarified Bagatsing's alleged involvement in the scam.
More than 100 lawmakers have been tagged in the scam, with some allegedly having direct transactions with Napoles. Others lawmakers such as Bagatsing were only allgedly mentioned or used by agents.
Napoles is at the center of one of the country’s biggest corruption scandals to date. She is accused of being the “mastermind” in a scam where millions of public funds were siphoned off through fake projects implemented by bogus non-governmental organizations.
Plunder and graft charges have since been filed against Napoles and Senators Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, and Juan Ponce Enrile.
Napoles had made a bid to turn state witness and issued her affidavit in hopes of being granted immunity, but this was turned down by the Ombudsman.
This isn't the first time Napoles had to clarify or correct inclusions in her list. Earlier, Napoles apologized to Cebu 1st district Representative Gerald Gullas Jr for his alleged inclusion in the list. It turned out it was his grandfather whom Napoles had allegedly dealt with. – Rappler.com