pork barrel scam

Napoles pork barrel scam trial: Court admits Benhur Luy, AMLC documents

Rappler.com
Napoles pork barrel scam trial: Court admits Benhur Luy, AMLC documents

NAPOLES. In this file photo, then-accused pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles attends a hearing at the Sandiganbayan in Quezon City on June 15, 2017.

DARREN LANGIT

Among the evidence admitted by the anti-graft court are printouts from the hard drive of star witness Benhur Luy that showed the illegal transactions of Napoles

MANILA, Philippines – No dice. The Sandiganbayan Seventh Division, in a November 15, 2022 resolution, denied attempts by plunder convict Janet Napoles, former Oriental Mindoro representative and governor Rodolfo Valencia, and several other officials to block evidence submitted by the prosecution against them.

In 2016, the Ombudsman filed complaints that charged three counts of graft and another three counts of malversation against businesswoman Napoles and her co-accused. She was believed to be the mastermind of the controversial pork barrel scam that siphoned millions of pesos in lawmakers’ development funds to bogus non-government organizations.

The graft and malversation cases involved P7 million in Valencia’s Priority Development Assistance Funds (more popularly known as pork barrel) that ended up with Napoles’ fake Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (MAMFI). Funds were channeled through government-owned or controlled corporations – the Technology Resource Center (TRC) and National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor)– to Napoles’ foundation.

MAMFI, according to graft investigators and auditors, had no real programs, however, even as funds were supposedly allocated for Valencia’s district. Livelihood and agricultural projects, skills training, and livelihood kits supposedly intended for the congressman’s constituents were non-existent.

Evidence admitted

The anti-graft court admitted as evidence a joint-complaint affidavit from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), which was opposed by the defense, arguing that legal custodian Cesar Cruz of the AMLC secretariat had no personal knowledge of the document.

The Sandiganbayan ruled that it was sufficient for Cruz to attest that the affidavit was a certified copy of a public document.

Similarly, the anti-graft court rejected arguments by Napoles that an October 19, 2016 AMLC bank inquiry report was based on hearsay and that bank documents that were submitted were not originals. Valencia, for his part, said that a prosecution witness from AMLC, Leigh Vhon Santos, also had no personal knowledge of the bank inquiry report.

The court said the report could not have been hearsay because it had been authenticated by Santos, a bank officer of the AMLC secretariat.

Printouts from the hard drive of star witness Benhur Luy, who worked closely with Napoles, were likewise admitted into the case record. The printouts showed a breakdown of incoming funds and releases titled, “JLN Cash/Check Daily Disbursement Reports.” JLN stands for Janet Lim Napoles.

National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agent Dario Sabilano, also a certified hacking forensics investigator who had been presented earlier as expert witness, testified on the Luy computer printouts. According to prosecutors, these documents were proof that the “illegal transactions of accused Napoles through various NGOs were recorded and documented by her finance officer Luy.”

Besides Napoles and Valencia, the other co-accused in the graft and malversation cases are the following:

  • TRC executives – Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Consuelo Lilian Espiritu, Francisco Figura, Marivic Jover, Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana
  • Nabcor officials – Alan Javellana, Rhodora Bulatao, Victor Cacal, Maria Ninez Guañizo
  • Department of Budget Management employees – then-undersecretary Mario Relampagos, Rosario Nuñez, administrative assistants Marilou Bare and Lalaine Paule.

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