FACT-CHECK: Making sense of the Napoles lists

Reynaldo Santos Jr, Michael Bueza

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FACT-CHECK: Making sense of the Napoles lists
(UPDATED) We run a fact-check and scrutinize the lists. Here are some patterns and inconsistencies we noticed, inclusive of the Napoles affidavit released May 26

First of 3 parts

Part 2: FACT-CHECK: House of Representatives and the ‘Napolists’
Part 3: FACT-CHECK: Agents, implementing agencies, and the ‘Napolists’

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Confused by the proliferation of so-called Napoles lists? 

The lists – released separately by Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, and the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI), plus the new affidavit submitted by the Napoles camp on Monday, May 26 – have made the Philippines’ biggest corruption scandal in recent history appear even more complex.

More lawmakers and personalities have been implicated in the billion-peso pork barrel scam, with many denying their alleged involvement. Some of the names were publicized and then retracted.

To get a grip on what is going on, we compared the lists that have diminished the credibility of what could be the original and real list of those who allegedly transacted with Janet Lim Napoles, the supposed pork barrel scam mastermind .

We ran a fact-check and scrutinized the lists – senators, members of Congress, various agents and government implementing agencies – and noted inconsistencies and patterns that stood out.

The Lacson list was handed by Jimmy Napoles, husband of Janet Napoles, and their children, to the rehabilitation secretary in his Taguig office last March 27. Napoles’ lawyer Bruce Rivera confirmed that the family gave Lacson the documents but said the list he has is incomplete.

Napoles met for 5 hours with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima late evening of April 21 extending to the early hours of April 22, and supposedly gave her a partial version of the list. De Lima submitted on May 15 the list, which was made public by Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III despite a request by De Lima not to do so. De Lima said the disclosure of the list was imprudent.

Both lists contain the names of 12 current and former senators implicated in the scam.

The Napoles camp submitted on May 26 a new affidavit that added 9 more names of senators to the original 12 names in the De Lima list.

The PDI list, on the other hand, was reportedly copied from the hard drive of Luy provided by his parents to the broadsheet on April 27, 2013, and which revealed 25 names of past and present senators. 

On top of the 4 that have been released, we also looked at personalities identified in the 2007-2009 special audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA) and at plunder charges filed before the Office of the Ombudsman in relation to the pork barrel scam.

Findings speak for themselves and reinforce the perception that the release of multiple lists does appear to serve an agenda. We’re sharing with you our observations and perhaps you could spot other red flags as well.

This fact-check and scrutiny will have 3 parts – the first, focusing on senators; the second, on members of the House of Representatives; and the third, on agents and employees of implementing agencies.

For the first part of this report, we compared the senators listed in all the 4 documents and checked whether they were mentioned in the COA special audit report and whether the Ombudsman had filed charges against them.

In the second part, we will compare the COA report with the list of House representatives allegedly linked to the scam. In the concluding part, we will check whether charges have been filed against agents and implementing agency employees mentioned in the 4 lists.

Senators’ lists

All documents reveal different sets of names, but some or all 4 of them bear common names.

For instance, the names of the 3 senators who already face plunder charges before the Office of the Ombudsman consistently appear – Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jinggoy Estrada. The 3 senators had likewise been named in earlier testimonies by whistleblowers.

Besides the 3 senators, 5 other incumbent senators were mentioned in all 4 lists:

  • Alan Cayetano
  • Gringo Honasan
  • Loren Legarda
  • Aquilino Pimentel III
  • Vicente Sotto III

Among the senators mentioned in the Lacson, De Lima, and the new Napoles list, Francis “Chiz” Escudero does not appear in the Inquirer list.

Likewise, Senator JV Ejercito was not included in the new Napoles list. The Napoles camp had earlier apologized for the inclusion of Ejercito in the De Lima list.

Completing the list of those who appeared in all 4 lists are the following former senators:

  • Robert Barbers (senator from 1998 to 2004; now deceased)
  • Manny Villar (senator from 2001 to 2013) 

In all, a total of 26 former and incumbent senators were implicated in the documents.

Senators COA Report Ombudsman Lacson List De Lima List
May 15)
Inquirer List Napoles List
May 26)
Incumbent senators
1. Cayetano, Alan Peter     ✓*
2. Drilon, Franklin          
3. Ejercito, JV      
4. Enrile, Juan Ponce
5. Escudero, Francis       ✓*
6. Estrada, Jinggoy
7. Honasan, Gringo  
8. Lapid, Lito        
9. Legarda, Loren    
10. Marcos, Ferdinand Jr        
11. Pimentel, Aquilino III    
12. Recto, Ralph          
13. Revilla, Ramon Jr
14. Santiago, Miriam          
15. Sotto, Vicente III    
16. Villar, Cynthia        
Former senators
1. Angara, Edgardo          
2. Aquino-Oreta, Tessie        
3. Barbers, Robert    
4. Biazon, Rodolfo        
5. Estrada, Loi        
6. Jaworski, Robert        
7. Magsaysay, Ramon Jr        
8. Pimentel, Aquilino Jr        
9. Revilla, Ramon Sr          
10. Villar, Manny     ✓*
– Only the senators identified to have released pork barrel fund to Napoles-linked NGOs are listed under the ‘COA Report’ column.
– Senators marked with ✓* under the Napoles Affidavit column (May 26) received campaign funds only. (In the case of Manny Villar, his name appeared in both the roster of senators who allegedly received commissions and those who received campaign funds only.)

The documents implicated more than half of the senators who comprise the current 16th Congress. Out of the 24 sitting senators, 16 are mentioned in the lists, equivalent to about two-thirds of the incumbent Senate.

Santiago was one of the senators Lacson named in a television interview as being part of the list given to him, but her name was not in the Lacson list when it was released.

Despite Santiago’s inclusion in the Inquirer list, principal whistleblower Benhur Luy has already denied that she was among the senators who transacted with Napoles.

COA audit

Among the 12 senators identified in the COA report, only 4 were alleged to have released their pork barrel to Napoles-linked NGOs: Enrile, Estrada, Honasan, and Revilla. 

The report revealed that at least 10 NGOs “presently linked” to Napoles received a total of P2.157 billion in pork barrel between 2007 and 2009.

Consistently, the names of the 4 senators also appeared in all the 4 lists. Honasan, however, was the only one spared from the plunder charge filed by the Ombudsman.

Not all senators mentioned in the 3 lists were covered by the 2007-2009 audit. At least 8 senators were not in public office then: Aquino-Oreta, Drilon, Barbers (who died in 2005), Koko Pimentel, Loi Ejercito, Jaworski, Magsaysay, and Revilla Sr.

Also, at least 3 were in other public posts during those years and were not covered by the audit: JV Ejercito was San Juan City mayor, Recto was National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chairman, and Sotto was chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board.

To be continued  Rappler.com

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Michael Bueza

Michael is a data curator under Rappler's Tech Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.