Loi Estrada also channeled pork barrel to Napoles

Aries C. Rufo

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Letters sent to the agriculture department appear to tie up some loose ends regarding connections between the Estrada family and Janet Napoles

TIES. The Estrada couple is seen in socials with suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles.

MANILA, Philippines – It’s not only the son who showered Janet Lim Napoles with his millions of pesos in pork barrel allocations. The matriarch of the Estrada clan had her share as well.

While they were both in the Senate, the mother-and-son tandem of former Senator Luisa “Loi” Ejercito Estrada and Jinggoy Estrada separately poured their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) set up by Napoles for her elaborate pork barrel scheme.

Copies of official communication to the Department of Agriculture provided to Rappler show that the former First Lady allocated her pork barrel to at least two Napoles-linked NGOs while she was senator from 2001 to 2007.

Her son Jinggoy, who was elected first-time senator in 2004, quickly followed suit. The Estradas were the first mother-and-son pair to occupy Senate seats at the same time.

The younger Estrada refused to comment when sought for their side. “I will just allow the court to decide on our case,” he simply said.

The documents appear to tie up some loose ends on the connections and relationships that bind the Estrada family members to Napoles.

Photos published by Rappler show Napoles as a regular fixture in parties and family affairs of the Estradas. (READ: Exclusive: Napoles partied, joined Estrada family affairs)

Former President Estrada earlier said he knew Napoles but only as an acquaintance and not on a personal basis.

Different sources who were close to Napoles and familiar with the pork barrel scam told us that Napoles allegedly collected sums from Loi’s PDAF, even before she got to Jinggoy’s pork barrel. But it was not through Loi that Napoles got to penetrate Jinggoy. Instead, it was through a family friend, Ruby Chan Tuason, who served as social secretary during President Estrada’s time, that Jinggoy met Napoles.

In the plunder charge before the Ombudsman, Tuason reportedly acted as conduit of Napoles to Estrada and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and his chief of staff, Atty Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes.

Letters to Yap, Panganiban

Loi sent letters to former Agriculture Secretaries Arthur Yap and Domingo Panganiban from 2005 to 2007. The Estrada matriarch’s term ended in June 2007. Although eligible for reelection, she did not seek a second term.

A letter dated May 9, 2005 addressed to Yap and bearing Loi’s signature said she wanted to transfer her pork barrel to Philippine Social Development Inc, which had been identified as a Napoles NGO. (Yap is now Bohol 3rd District representative).

Covered by a Special Allotment Release Order No. E-05-0081, the pork barrel amounted to P10 million.

Another letter, dated Jan 11, 2006, this time addressed to Panganiban who had replaced Yap, indicated that Loi had tapped Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc (MAMFI) as “conduit” for her pork barrel amounting to P10 million under the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani-Rice and Corn Program. The money was covered by SARO No. ROCS-05-07593.

The P10-million project was supposed to be implemented in two municipalities in Surigao del Norte, a favorite province of Napoles and her fake NGOs in implementing their bogus programs. MAMFI is also among the dozen Napoles-linked NGOs.

A third letter dated Feb 7, 2007 addressed to Yap, who was then reappointed to the Department of Agriculture, stated that Loi wished to tap MAMFI again as “conduit” for her P23-million pork barrel under the GMA-Rice and Corn Program. The fund was covered by SARO No. ROCS-06-07680.

In that letter, MAMFI was to implement the program in Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and Agusan del Sur.

Jinggoy’s letters

While his mother dumped her pork barrel to Napoles-linked NGOs, Jinggoy apparently was not about to be left behind.

A special report by the Commission on Audit showed Jinggoy as one of the 3 senators who religiously channeled their PDAF to Napoles-linked NGOs in exchange for 50% commissions. (READ: Bong, JPE, Jinggoy ‘suki’ to Napoles NGOs). The COA report however covered only the period 2007-2009.

At the very least, the letters show that Jinggoy had been dealing with Napoles as early as 2005.

One letter, dated August 15, 2005, informed Panganiban that Jinggoy wanted to “transfer” his P30-million PDAF to People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc (POPDF) as his “conduit.”

The senator also attached a separate letter which indicated where his pork barrel would be used.

The letter showed marginal notes from Panganiban instructing the DA Caraga Regional Director Ricardo Regis to “expedite release to concern organization by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.” The fund was covered by SARO No. E-04-04946.

Another letter to Panganiban dated Feb 7, 2006 showed Jinggoy indicating his desire to release his P23-million pork barrel under the GMA-Rice and Corn Program to MAMFI. The recipient province listed was Surigao del Norte.

Benhur Luy’s ledger

What do the letters prove?

In the case of Jinggoy, they corroborate the supposed ledger prepared by principal whistleblower Benhur Luy detailing the commissions or rebates received by lawmakers or by their representatives in exchange for their pork barrel.

They also provide the missing link in the ledger which showed Jinggoy getting commissions as early as 2004.

One entry showed Jinggoy supposedly getting P1.5 million in rebates in 2004 through Tuason. Another entry in 2005 showed the senator getting P4.2 million as full payment for his P30 million PDAF.

In 2007, the ledger entry showed he got a total of P14.5 million for his P40 millon PDAF under the DA.

But what about his mother?

Lawyer for the whistleblowers Levito Baligod said Loi “will eventually be included” among those to be charged. He pointed out that the first two batches of those charged before the Ombudsman for the misuse of the pork barrel were those covered by the COA report.

Matt Ranillo case

Somehow, the letters also buttress the evidence submitted by actor Matt Ranillo before a Makati Regional Trial Court in connection with a civil case filed by Napoles against him sometime in 2007. Ranillo had supposedly acted as agent for Napoles for the pork barrel scheme before they had a falling out.

In a December 2013 report by the TV news program “24 Oras,” Ranillo presented to the court vouchers prepared by Luy sometime in 2005 indicating rebates received by Loi and Jinggoy for their PDAF under the DA. Napoles’ camp however submitted a different set of vouchers without the names of Loi and Jinggoy. 

The two camps eventually settled their legal dispute. – with reports from Rey Santos Jr/Rappler.com

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