MANILA, Philippines - Either this couple has a weakness of posing for photo opportunities with the powers-that-be or they simply instinctively know how to weave themselves into the corridors of power.
Jaime Napoles and his wife Janet, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam that dragged a number of lawmakers, partied with former President Estrada’s family and made themselves available during other family occasions.
After a photo of him with the Napoles couple’s daughter Jeane surfaced on Instagram, the former President, now mayor of Manila, told an ABS-CBN reporter he does not personally know the Napoleses.
The photo was apparently taken during the birthday party of Estrada’s daughter-in-law Presentacion "Precy" Ejercito. Napoles said in previous interviews that she knew Precy, wife of Sen Jinggoy Estrada.
Referring to Jeane Napoles in the photo, Estrada said, “Hindi ko matandaan eh. Alam mo naman eh, bukod sa mayor tayo eh, nag-artista tayo, kaya maraming nagpapa-picture sa akin. ( I cannot recall. You know how it is, aside from being a mayor, I was also a former actor, that’s why many would want to have their pictures taken with me).”
'No casual conversations'
In a separate phone interview with Rappler, Estrada reiterated that he does not know if the Napoleses are friends with his son Jinggoy and his daughter-in-law Precy. Jinggoy is among the senators identified in a special state audit whose pork barrel, or Priority Development Assistance Fund, was diverted to bogus non-governmental organizations set up by Janet Napoles.
Informed that Rappler obtained photos of him and his wife, former Sen Loi Estrada, posing with the Napoles couple in a party, and in what appeared to be a graduation celebration of his grandchild, Estrada brushed aside any suggestion that they were close.
“Marami akong photos sa mga taong di ko kakilala (I have many photos with people I do not know),” he said.
He also stressed that he has not exchanged any casual or even polite conversations with the Napoleses, whom he said, he might have seen in other occasions.
The photos below, however, show the Napoleses in at least two different occasions with the Estradas.
Photo sourced by Rappler
Photo obtained by Rappler
President Aquino, too
Photos of the Napoles couple and their daughter with President Aquino surfaced this week but Malacañang denied there was anything beyond the pictures. The Palace said they were mere photo opportunities that people normally have with the President.
Photos of Senate President Franklin Drilon with wife Mila partying with the Napoleses also surfaced, prompting the senator to admit partying with them. Drilon however denied engaging in any transaction with Napoles.
Earlier, Rappler also published a photo of Sandiganbayan senior Justice Gregory Ong posing for the camera with Janet Napoles and Jinggoy. Ong has also denied being associated with Napoles. He was the presiding justice of the anti-graft division that tried the ghost delivery of the Kevlar helmet case which first implicated Janet Napoles in a scam. She was cleared but her brother Reynald, was convicted. - Rappler.com