MANILA, Philippines – Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles hopes it was just her who was indicted for tax evasion – and not her daughter Jeane – over the properties she had paid for anyway.
"Okay lang. Bahala na ang Diyos... Pero sana ako na lang (It's okay. I leave it to God... But I hope it was just me)," she told reporters at the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan before her bail hearing Friday, September 12.
Napoles' lawyer Dennis Buenaventura told Rappler that the properties under Jeane's name were merely donated by her parents. These are the properties that prompted the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to file tax evasion charges against her. (READ: DOJ approves tax raps vs Jeane Napoles)
He added that the parents or the donors should be made liable for the unpaid donor's taxes, and not the recipient of the gift. "They're using the daughter to inflict pain on the mother," he said, adding that the case would not have prospered if Jeane was somebody else's daughter.
Lawyer Stephen David, lead counsel for Napoles' cases before the Sandiganbayan, added that the young Napoles was merely a student abroad relying on her parents to pay for her needs.
Jeane's parents already defended her before the justice department through their joint affidavit, saying they were de facto owners of properties under Jeane's name. (READ: Napoles couple on tax evasion: Blame us, not Jeane)
But even the Napoles couple are already being investigated by the DOJ for a separate P61-million tax liability. State records show Janet's liability stands at P44.68 million (over $1 million*), while her husband Jaime's is at P16.43 million ($373,664*).
The Sandiganbayan 3rd Division was hearing Napoles' plea to be allowed to post bail for her temporary liberty.
Napoles and 4 others including Senator Juan Ponce Enrile who is the principal accused are facing a plunder case before the 3rd Division for allegedly conspiring to defraud the government of P172 million ($3.91 million*) in Enrile's Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
Seen as the PDAF scam mastermind, Napoles allegedly used dummy foundations to corner lawmakers' PDAF supposed to fund agricultural livelihood programs for poor farmer-beneficiaries in rural villages.
Napoles will have to appear in court weekly
Napoles, who had become accustomed to frequent media interviews, has been appearing weekly in court for her bail hearing.
On September 3, her lawyers filed a motion before the 3rd Division for her to be excused from attending the weekly bail hearing and other court proceedings.
Right after the Friday proceeding, however, the 3rd Division issued a minute resolution denying Napoles' plea.
The Court said the exceptions in an accused waiver of her appearance in court "do not only refer to the arraignment and identification of the accused but in all other circumstances found to be compelling."
"The appearance before the Court whenever required is a continuing undertaking of the accused throughout the proceedings of the case until its final termination," the resolution read.
Napoles said she respects the court's decision and expressed initial doubts with the option of appealing or bringing the matter to the Supreme Court. – Rappler.com
*$1 = P43.97