Rappler Newscast | August 15, 2013

Manhunt is on for pork barrel queen Janet Napoles. Querubin asks how Napoles become so wealthy? Sex-for-flight victim scam faces her alleged abuser...

Today on Rappler.

  • A nationwide manhunt is on for pork barrel queen Janet Napoles and her brother.
  • Former Marine Col Ariel Querubin asks: from a struggling supplier, how did Janet Napoles become so wealthy?
  • A victim of the sex-for-flight scam faces her alleged abuser Riyadh labor attaché Antonio Villafuerte.

A manhunt is on for Janet Napoles, who has – so far – evaded authorities after a Makati court issued an order for her arrest.
Natashya Gutierrez reports.

Where in the world is Janet Lim-Napoles?
This is the question on everyone’s mind over 24 hours since the Makati Regional Trial Court ordered her arrest and that of her brother Reynald Lim.
The two are wanted for illegal detention for the kidnapping of personal assistant turned whistleblower Benhur Luy.
They are also the alleged syndicates of a multi-million pork barrel scam involving the pocketing of lawmakers’ priority development and assistance funds.
But after a full night and day of searching, the two are nowhere to be found.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says someone tipped the two which allowed them to evade arrest.

LEILA DE LIMA, JUSTICE SECRETARY: And that’s the reason why, kasi last night, as soon as the NBI team was able to get hold of the copies of the warrant of arrest, they immediately proceeded to the known addresses of the Napoleses. Including Pacific Plaza, Dasmarinas and meron pa silang ibang pinuntahan pero negative. (That’s the reason why. Last night, as soon as the NBI team was able to get hold of the copies of the warrants of arrest, they immediately proceeded to the known addresses of the Napoleses. Including Pacific Plaza, Dasmarinas and others they went to but they were all negative.)

Whistleblowers say the Napoleses have at least 10 residential addresses in Metro Manila, Laguna and Tagaytay.
Regional and field offices are now involved in the nationwide manhunt.
Twelve teams are deployed to continue the search while the Bureau of Immigration is allowed to make arrests if it spots the two.
Even citizen arrests are permitted.
De Lima warns accomplices helping to hide the Napoleses will face charges as well.
She recommends the two surrender, or waive their right to air their side.

LEILA DE LIMA, JUSTICE SECRETARY: Kung ako sa kanya, mag surrender na lang siya. Harapin niya itong kaso at ang susunod na mga kaso. (If I were her I’d just surrender. She should face this case and other cases that will follow.)

Whether or not Napoles cooperates, De Lima says the probe on the pork barrel scam continues.
The Department of Justice also appeals to the public for leads and tips on the siblings’ location, to help them find the Napoleses faster.

NATASHYA GUTIERREZ, REPORTING: All eyes are on the NBI as they work to find the alleged mastermind of what investigators call one of the biggest scams in the country’s history.  Now, the Napoleses join General Jovito Palparan and the Reyes brothers among the country’s famous fugitives.  

Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Manila.

Here’s another Rappler exclusive.
SEC records show, legitimate businesses owned by pork barrel queen Janet Napoles earned a little more than half a million pesos — glaringly inconsistent with her family’s lifestyle, their US properties totalling P 495 million, at least 10 residential houses in the Philippines and 30 cars.
Napoles says her family’s wealth came from legitimate sources– including inheritance from her parents and a profitable coal mining business.
But official filings show the net profits her registered businesses last reported total a little more than half a million pesos– P577,807.47 to be exact from 2004 to 2012.
Rappler checked with the Securities and Exchange Commission for businesses registered under Napoles family members.
We found 24 companies, formed over the last 16 years.
Half of the companies have stopped operations.
Of the 12 still operational, only 3 complied with the SEC requirement to file annual Financial Statements.
These are RLG Solutions Corp, which deals with “security systems and IT”; JCLN Global Properties Dev’t Corp, which is engaged in “real estate”; and JLN Corp, which deals with “marine supplies and equipment.”
In its 2012 financial statement, RLG Solutions declared zero revenue and losses of more than P380,000.
In 2012, JCLN Global Properties declared a gross income of P4.3 million and a net income of more than P544,000.
JLN Corp last filed a financial statement for 2011, where it declared a gross income of P4.03 million and net income of P33,000.
From 2004 to 2011, JLN Corp – supposedly the flagship company of the Napoleses – declared annual net incomes of between P21,000 and P100,000.
People who worked with Napoles say she started as a vendor before becoming a military supplier.
Sources say the changes in the Napoleses’ lifestyle became evident around 2003.
Napoles attributes this to her coal mining business in Indonesia.
But among the registered businesses in the Philippines, only two have something to do with mining and coal trading.
Asia Star Power Resources Corp, which is engaged in “coal import/export,” was formed on April 8, 2011, but in 2012, it filed an Affidavit of Non-operation with SEC.
The other company, Sur Mine Corp — was formed less than two months ago, on June 20, 2013.

The lawyer of Janet Napoles justifies her client evading arrest.
She asks, “wouldn’t you hide too?”
Carmela Fonbuena reports.

LORNA KAPUNAN, LAWYER OF JANET LIM NAPOLES: We’d like to clarify that we do not know where Mrs Napoles is. If you were her, bakit hindi naman kayo magtatago? Kung ang napakagiting na Senator Lacson noong inissuehan ng warrant arrest e nagtago rin because he felt it was unfair. (If you were here, wouldn’t you hide too? Even the Senator Lacson who was issued a warrant of arrest before also went into hiding because he felt it was unfair.)

Attorney Lorna Kapunan was watching a Vilma Santos movie Wednesday evening when she received a barrage of calls.
That’s how she learned a Makati court issued an arrest warrant against her client Janet Lim Napoles — the woman notorious for allegedly masterminding a multi-billion pork barrel scam.
The arrest warrant is not for the pork barrel scam but for the alleged detention of employee-and-cousin-turned whistleblower Benhur Luy.

LORNA KAPUNAN, LAWYER OF JANET LIM NAPOLES: This relates to a case of illegal detention na ang Benhur who used to be in her employ disappeared for 3 months to go on a retreat. This retreat was self imposed. Benhur himself said he would atone for his sins. Nabisto po siya nagnanakaw sa company. Yung bonus ng empleyado, 300,000. (They found out he was stealing from the company. The employees’ bonus is P300,000.)

This is not the version of the National Bureau of Investigation, which claimed that Napoles abducted Luy because he was supposedly trying to set up his own scheme to earn kickbacks from the pork barrel.
The NBI rescued Luy on March 22 from one of Napoles’ condominiums in Taguig City.
This begins his tell-all revelations about Napoles’s supposed pork barrel scam.
In June, The Philippine Daily Inquirer started its series on the story.
The rest is history.
The Department of Justice had dismissed this case of illegal detention, but it was reversed and the Makati court issued the arrest warrant.

LORNA KAPUNAN, LAWYER OF JANET LIM NAPOLES: This is purely hearsay. Please ask the Secretary if it’s true or not. I also want to know if it is true or not that she called a marathon meeting saying that by all means you have to reverse this finding and file a case…by all means maaresto na ‘yan. (By all means, she will be arrested.)

Kapunan says the arrest warrant came as a shock because no new evidence was presented to warrant the reversal of the earlier ruling.

LORNA KAPUNAN, LAWYER OF JANET LIM NAPOLES: Napahiya nga ako kay Mrs Napoles because I assured her. I really assured her that we must have faith in this process. (I lost face with Mrs. Napoles because I assured her.)

Kapunan reiterates her position that Mrs Napoles has become a fall guy.

LORNA KAPUNAN, LAWYER OF JANET LIM NAPOLES: Even if you check government records, she doesn’t have a single contract from government. She has not received a single peso from government. There must be somebody who is orchestrating this. Yun ang dapat tunguhan ng imbestigahan na ito. Who are those people who will benefit from whitewash of this case? (That’s where this investigation should head to.)

What happens now?

CARMELA FONBUENA, REPORTING: Attorney Kapunan says they will avail of legal remedies to clear the name of Mrs Napoles in the case of illegal detention and in the pork barrel scam.  But will Mrs Napoles herself show up to prove her innocence? Observers say a woman with huge resources at her disposal will be hard to find, until she decides to give herself up.
Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Taguig City

Former Marine Col Ariel Querubin speaks to Rappler about his family’s past dealings with Janet Napoles and questions her claims her family built their wealth from coal trading.
Querubin says he knew Napoles as a struggling military supplier.
In 1998, Napoles got a P3.8-million contract to deliver 500 Kevlar helmets to the Philippine Marines — but failed to deliver on time.
Napoles also got Querubin’s wife and a doctor-friend to invest in a supposed shipyard in Cebu.

ARIEL QUERUBIN, FORMER MARINE COL: She was at that time a struggling supplier, that’s why I said, if she was rich then, why will she go around convince people to give her money for that contract?

Mrs Loreta Querubin died 19 years ago. A day before her death, she tried — and failed — to collect her investment from Napoles.
Recalling the incident, Querubin says Napoles went to the wake and apologized.
He did not know then the stress his wife was under.

ARIEL QUERUBIN, FORMER MARINE COL: Only when I read the interview of that doctor-friend that I found out the circumstances leading to that tragic death was really very stressful, from the time when they were collecting money in Binan, Laguna where they used to live, and then they were bitten by mosquitoes, my baby was crying…when I read it, I really had goosebumps. Had I known earlier those happened, then I would’ve differently reacted when I saw her.

Querubin says he wants to tell the public what he knows first-hand.

MARIA RESSA: How would you describe the character of Janet Napoles?
ARIEL QUERUBIN, FORMER MARINE COL: I’ll quote it from the doctor-friend of my wife that she has the capacity, the capability and the character to do it.
MARIA RESSA: To do the pork barrel scam?

Rappler’s managing editor Glenda Gloria, who broke the story on the ties between the two families, says Querubin’s experience reinforces earlier reports about the source of the Napoles family’s wealth.

GLENDA GLORIA, RAPPLER’S MANAGING EDITOR: His story really reinforced a lot of things about Mrs Napoles. For one, that the events that happened in the 90s somewhat debunked her claim that she’s been wealthy from that time, 20 years ago. To this day she has not shown any proof of that wealth.

3 victims of the sex-for-flight scam in the Middle East face their alleged abuser, Riyadh labor attaché Antonio Villafuerte, during a Senate probe Thursday.
In a dramatic gesture, one victim removes her mask to face her alleged abuser.
The victim “Michelle”, not her real name, asks Villafuerte, “Now, Mr Villafuerte, do you remember me, what you did to me?”
Responding to the questions of Senate labor committee chair Jinggoy Estrada, Villafuerte confirms he knew Michelle but denies he tried to rape her.
In a privilege speech July 29, Estrada accused Villafuerte of sexually molesting Michelle and other distressed overseas Filipino workers.
Estrada also narrates an event when Michelle, who had ran away from an abusive employer with only the clothes on her back, requested items such as underwear from Villafuerte.
Villafuerte allegedly sent this text message to Michelle. He used Filipino words seldom used in everyday conversation.
Senators considered the “salungso” and “salungki,” Filipino words for “bra” and “panty,” offensive.
Michelle, Villafuerte, and other embassy and labor officials will return to the Senate on August 22 as the sex-for-flight probe continues.

The Philippine Foreign Affairs Department urges Filipinos to leave Egypt as it raises crisis alert level 3, after civil unrest breaks out between supporters and opponents of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez says alert level 3 means voluntary repatriation of Filipinos in Egypt.
Up to 6,000 Filipinos live there.
On Wednesday, Egyptian security forces storm the Cairo protest camps of Morsi’s supporters in a long-anticipated assault.
Officials say at least 525 people are killed.
In response, the interim government imposes a month-long nationwide state of emergency and curfews in Cairo and 13 other provinces.
The violence prompts Egyptian Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei to resign, saying his conscience is troubled over the loss of life.
He adds, “It has become too difficult to continue bearing responsibility for decisions I do not agree with and whose consequences I fear.”
World leaders condemn the use of force by the interim government.
The White House says it “strongly condemns” the violence against the protesters and opposes the imposition of a state of emergency.

At number 4, Member countries of the Asssociation of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agree to push China to accept a binding code of conduct involving disputes in the South China Sea.
Foreign ministers from the 10-member ASEAN say they will –quote– “speak in one voice” while seeking an “early conclusion of a code of conduct.”
The ministers will meet Chinese officials in Beijing by the end of August.
China claims nearly all of the sea and prefers bilateral talks instead of a legally binding code of conduct.

At number 7, A tweaked version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system will be available on October 18.
Windows 8.1 restores the “Start” button missed by users and updates other features.
It will be offered as a free download to those already using Windows 8.
The update comes after a lukewarm reception to the operating system introduced last year for mobile devices and PCs.

And at number 8, researchers say people who use Facebook may feel more connected, but less happy.
A study of young adults released Wednesday says the more people used Facebook, the worse they subsequently felt.
The study’s lead author says that on the surface, Facebook fulfills the basic human need for social connection.
The downside, though, is users seem to feel less happy.


Newscast production staff

DIRECTOR Rupert Ambil
  Dindin Reyes
HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER Katerina Francisco
  Exxon Ruebe
  Adrian Portugal
  Francis Lopez
  Naoki Mengua
GRAPHICS Jessica Lazaro
  Matthew Hebrona