Condo security: 'Benhur not kidnapped'

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) rescued pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy on March 22, 2013 – but did he really need help?

If one of the defense team’s witnesses are to be believed, Luy wasn’t kidnapped at all. 

Luy, who has since turned state witness in the scam, was allegedly kidnapped by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles and her brother Reynald “Jojo” Lim.

Sabi niya [Luy], ‘Walang kasalanan si Kuya Jojo (Luy said, 'Kuya Jojo [Lim] didn’t do anything wrong),'”  Fernando Masayon recounted during the serious illegal detention case against Napoles and Lim on Tuesday, August 19.

Masayon said Luy's brother was egging Luy to “tell the truth" but Luy allegedly insisted he wasn’t being kidnapped and told his family and NBI agents, “Hindi naman ako kinidnap, ano ba naman kayo? (What’s wrong with you? I’m not being kidnapped).”

A more senior member of the condominium security force, Feliciano Alcantara, said he heard Luy say the same thing.

Asked how he reacted to Luy’s protestations, Masayon said, “Nagulat ako; I didn’t know (I was surprised; I didn’t know)."

NBI’s point of view

It was the first time for the court to hear the narration of events from the point-of-view of the condominium security. One of the first witnesses in the case was NBI agent Rodante Berou, who led the operation to “rescue” Luy.

Berou earlier said Luy's parents and siblings had arranged to meet with Lim and Luy inside the condominium. Shortly after, the family entered the condominium unit and the NBI followed.

During the bail hearings, Berou said Luy looked confused when he was confronted by the NBI. Luy, during his own turn on the witness stand, said this was because he mistook the NBI to be people sent by “mayors and senators” to get rid of him.

Both Masayon and Alcantara said Luy looked angry at the time.

Luy said he eventually calmed down once he realized they were NBI agents who were there to rescue him.

During the cross-examination, Prosecutor Christopher Garvida asked Masayon how he could have heard Luy through the chaos during the NBI rescue.

“Is it possible that you heard Benhur say: 'Wala akong ginagawang masama, Kuya Jojo (I didn’t do anything wrong, Kuya Jojo),’” asked Garvida. 

"Hindi ko narinig 'yan (I didn’t hear that),” Masayon replied. 

Alcantara, meanwhile, said they did not step in despite the chaos inside the condominium unit because it didn’t seem like anybody was getting hurt.

Kidnapping case

Napoles has been tagged by Luy and other whistleblowers as the “mastermind” of the multimillion peso scam. She has since been charged for graft and plunder, alongside Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla, and Jinggoy Estrada; and other government officials.

Luy claims Napoles had him illegally detained from December 2012 to March 2013 after she allegedly discovered that he was setting up a business patterned after her scheme – siphoning off public funds through fake projects carried out by bogus non-governmental organizations.

Prosecution witnesses presented at Napoles’ bail hearing claimed it was Napoles herself who ordered Luy detained. But the defense maintains Luy went along willingly.

Napoles has been behind bars since she surrendered in August 2013. She was first detained at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, then the Makati City Jail, and at the police camp in Fort Sto Domingo in Laguna.

She is currently detained at Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig city after the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan issued a new commitment order for Napoles. –