Today on Rappler.
- A defiant Janet Napoles deflects Senators’ questions and denies she stole billions of lawmakers’ pork barrel.
- Sen Santiago tags Sen Enrile pork barrel scam mastermind and advices Napoles: tell all and turn state witness.
- Super typhoon Yolanda — international name Haiyan triggers signal number 4 over Eastern Visayas.
Story 1: NAPOLES DEFLECTS SENATORS’ QUESTIONS
Janet Lim Napoles finally faces the Senate.
One after the other, senators try to extract answers from the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam, but she manages to deflect most of the questions.
Was it a futile exercise?
Natashya Gutierrez reports.
JANET LIM NAPOLES, ALLEGED PORK BARREL MASTERMIND: Hindi ko alam. Hindi ko matandaan, sir. (I don’t know. I can’t remember, sir.) I invoke my right to self-incrimination.
Like getting blood from a stone.
That’s what drawing out answers from a defiant Janet Lim Napoles was like.
At times feisty, and other times disengaged, Napoles makes sure of one thing: the senators probing the scheme at the blue ribbon committee hearing would not get anything from her.
Napoles denies every accusation thrown her way.
The biggest denial? That she is the mastermind of the scam that convinced lawmakers to channel their pork barrel to her bogus non-governmental organizations in exchange for hefty kickbacks.
CHIZ ESCUDERO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: At wala kayong kinalaman, under oath, sa ano mang transaction kaugnay ng PDAF na may kinalaman ang mga kongresista at mga senador? (Under oath you say, you had nothing to do with the scam, or any transaction in relation to PDAF, the congressmen and the senators?)
NAPOLES: Yes, your honor.
ESCUDERO: Na ni isang piso ninyo hindi nanggaling sa anumang scam na may kinalaman sa PDAF? (Not even a single peso of your money came from any kind of scam related to the PDAF?)
NAPOLES: Yes, your honor.
ESCUDERO: Na yung mga NGO na pinorma na nakinabang sa PDAF hindi sa inyo yun? (The NGOs that were formed and which benefited from the PDAF are not yours?)
Her whistleblowers shoot right back.
BENHUR LUY, WHISTLEBLOWER: Sir Nagsisinungaling siya kasi bago ako pumasok – 2002 – meron na siyang mga kliyente. (Sir, she’s lying because before I entered in 2002, she already had clients.)
MARINA SULA, WHISTLEBLOWER: Inadvise po ako ni Mrs Napoles na magform ng 20 NGOs plus one na NGO po sa pangalan ng mother niya. (Mrs. Napoles advised me to form 20 NGOs, plus one NGO under her mother’s name.)
But Napoles sticks to her guns.
She raises her voice raises when Senator TG Guingona insists she personally knows lawmakers and their staff who allegedly benefitted from the scam.
NAPOLES: What do you mean ‘kilala’? Kilala kong personally, or ano? Lahat ho ng senador, kilala diba, binoboto natin pero di ko po sila talaga kilala. (What do you mean, “know?” Know personally or what? All the senators are publicly known right? We vote for them but, I don’t really know them.) Nakakaawa nga ho ang mga senador na nada-drag ang pangalan, yung mga congressman. Hindi po totoo. (I actually pity the senators and congressmen whose names are dragged into the scam. The scam is not real.)
She also denies legislators received kickbacks from her.
NAPOLES: Di ba ho kung may mga ganung kickback gaya ng sinasabi ninyo, do you think ang isang mambabatas o isang chief of staff pipirma ng mga voucher? Kasinungalingan ho yan. Wala naman hong mga voucher voucher na ano…at wala hong ganyang bigayan ng pera. (If there was such a kickback like you are saying, do you think a lawmaker or chief of staff would sign a voucher? That’s a lie. There’s no voucher and there is no exchange of money.)
Her former employee testifies Napoles ordered the shredding of vouchers that documented their receipt of commissions.
ARLENE BALTAZAR, WHISTLEBLOWER: Ang sabi naman po niya kailangan i-shred lahat ng mga evidences para, in case na magkaroon ng search warrant, wala pong makikita na makaka-connect sa kanya doon sa mga NGOs at mga legislators. (All evidence must be shredded so in case there is a search warrant they won’t find anything that will connect her to the NGOs and the legislators.)
SULA: Dahil po sa dami nung papeles na kailangang i-shred…Bumili po siya ng heavy duty na isang shredder para po hindi mag-overheat. (Because of the number of documents we had to shred, she bought a heavy duty shredder so it wouldn’t overheat.)
Asked about her properties, she admits owning the luxurious Ritz-Carlton apartment in downtown Los Angeles, but insists the money came from her husband’s coal business in Indonesia.
Asked to describe her wealth she floors the gallery with a massive understatement.
CAYETANO: You admit na mayaman ka? You have a lot of money and resources? (You admit you’re rich?)
NAPOLES: Hindi po. (No.)
CAYETANO: For example, How would you consider yourself? Average, middle class, upper class, mayaman? (Average? Middle class? Upper class? Rich?)
NAPOLES: Tama sa buhay lang po. (We are just right.).
As the day wears on, Napoles turns more uninterested, refusing to engage senators.
Lawmakers try convincing her to speak, but soon turn frustrated.
ALAN PETER CAYETANO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Anyway Mr. Chairman I’d like to ask more questions but at the proper time because maybe we can discuss whether the witness is being evasive or abusing the power or using mistakenly or knowingly using the right against self-incrimination because …I’ve noticed matalino naman eh and kaya niya sagutin yung iba pero selective kung kailan naaalala o hindi. (I’ve noticed she’s smart but selective on when she remembers things or not.)
The hearing ends earlier than planned.
Guingona insists her appearance at the Senate was not a waste of time.
He says her demeanor was very telling.
TG GUINGONA, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: I’m satisfied because there was a stark contrast seen by the people. She made general denials versus very positive assertions of whistleblowers.
It is the first time Napoles faces the Senate but Guingona says it may not be the last. The senators will convene to plan its next move.
NATASHYA GUTIERREZ, REPORTING: They finally got her into the Senate chamber but virtually got nothing from her. Now senators have to deal with moving on. They say they are considering citing Napoles in contempt for evading questions, and admit they may go as far as file perjury charges. Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Manila.
Story 2: MIRIAM TO NAPOLES: TELL ALL BEFORE SENATORS KILL YOU
The woman at the center of the pork barrel scam faces Sen Miriam Santiago in Thursday’s Senate hearing.
She tells Janet Napoles: tell all before others implicated in the scam assassinate you.
Ayee Macaraig reports.
Janet Lim Napoles is defiant, at times even answering back.
But the supposed brains behind the pork barrel scam is no match for Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago.
Santiago returns to the Senate, turning Napoles’ testimony into a lecture with free legal advice thrown in.
After listening to Napoles’ denials for hours, Santiago tells Napoles there’s a difference between saying she does not know the answer and invoking her right against self-incrimination.
MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Meron ka bang kilalang personal, di lang sa mukha, alam mo ang pangalan o alam mo na senador ito. Kilala mong personal. Yung parang kaibigan mo na? (Are there any senators you talked to and know personally? Someone’s who’s already like your friend.)
JANET NAPOLES, ALLEGED PORK BARREL SCAM MASTERMIND: I invoke my right.
MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Sino lang kausap mo eh, “I invoke my right?!” Tapos na ang Halloween eh, wala nang multo! (I just asked you who you spoke with and you say, “I invoke my right?!” Halloween is over, there are no more ghosts.)
Santiago advises Napoles to tell all and turn state witness, warning her that there are serious consequences to her silence.
MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Kung si Enrile most guilty, sabihin mo na para ‘di ka ipapatay! Ang taong iyan, may gwardiya pa sa kubeta na may long firearm. Kaya wag mo i-underestimate ang Enrile na iyan. May asim pa rin si Tanda! (If Enrile is the most guilty, say it now so they won’t have you killed. That man has a guard in his bathroom with a long firearm. Don’t underestimate Enrile. That old man still has fire in him.)
The senator tells Napoles that only by turning state witness can she avoid 20 to 40 years imprisonment in the plunder case.
MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Magiging 90 ka na, kasing-tanda mo na si Tanda. Pinoproteksyunan mo ang tao na siya ang pinaka-guilty. I will give you this counsel: Tell the truth before the senators affected have you assassinated. (You will turn 90, you’ll be as old as that old man. You’re protecting the man who’s most guilty. Think about it. This is a friendly tip from a lawyer.)
Santiago also turns her ire on administration ally and Local Water Utilities Administration Chairman Rene Villa, who admitted to lawyering for Napoles.
The senator questions his credentials, calling him an OFW masquerading as an international trade lawyer.
Santiago also minces no words for Sen Serge Osmeña who made fun of her in front of media.
MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Gusto ko lang sabihin sa kalaban kong kinukutya ako dahil sinabi ko only court can grant immunity, yan ang problema pag ang tao di nagtapos ng college, maglecture sa abogada tungkol sa batas. (I’d just like to tell my opponent who’s criticizing me because I said only the court can grant immunity, that’s the problem when one didn’t finish college. You’ll end up lecturing a lawyer about the law.)
But Santiago is most concerned about Napoles, calling her “beyond evasive.”
MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Ignorance can be treated but stupid is forever. Let’s hope for the best. Let’s hope this is a case of ignorance.
The senator insists someone of Napoles’ background could not have acted on her own in convincing lawmakers and officials to cut a deal.
AYEE MACARAIG, REPORTING: Napoles successfully evades the questions of the day, but Santiago urges her to think long and hard about the future. The senator says unless Napoles tells the truth, the only choice left for her will be decades in jail or death.
Ayee Macaraig, Rappler.
Story 3: NAPOLES LAWYER OFFERED BALIGOD P300M
The counsel for the whistleblowers in the pork barrel case says Napoles’ lawyer offered P5 million to settle the illegal detention case against her.
When lawyer Levi Baligod refused, he says the offer went up to P300 million.
During Napoles’ testimony at the Senate, Baligod says Napoles’ lawyer Freddie Villamor asked to meet with him after Napoles’ cousin Benhur Luy was rescued in 2012.
LEVI BALIGOD, LEGAL COUNSEL FOR WHISTLEBLOWERS: Eh sabi ko ano ang paguusapan? “Eh, pwede bang ayusin natin ito dahil magkamag anak naman sila?” sabi niya. Sabi ko sige po kung yun ang gusto niyo sasabihon ko sa clients ko. Pero sabi niya “Sige na, bibigbigayn kita ng 5 million para maayos ito.” (I asked, “What are we going to talk about?” “Can we arrange this quietly since they are relatives anyway,” he said. I said okay, if that’s what you’d like I can tell my clients. But he said, “I’ll give you P5 million to fix this.”)
Baligod says after he refused the first offer, he was asked twice for another meeting.
The third time, Baligod came face to face with Napoles herself.
LEVI BALIGOD, LEGAL COUNSEL FOR WHISTLEBLOWERS: Hindi ko alam na siya ang kakausapin ko po eh. Basta sinabi ng nag arrange ng meeting may isa siyang close friend na gusto ako kausapin. (I didn’t know that I would be meeting with her. The one who arranged the meeting just said a close friend of his wanted to talk to me.)
ESCUDERO: Magkano po ang alok? Tumaas naman siguro nung siya na ang kausap mo? (How much did they offer you? It must have increased when you spoke with her?)
BALIGOD: Yun nga po ang inooffer nila 250-300 depende sa computation nila kasi gusto nila paalisin ang mga witnesses dito sa Pilipinas. (They offered P250-300 million, depending on their computations. They wanted the witnesses to leave the Philippines.)
Responding to allegations he tried to extort money from Napoles, Baligod challenges Napoles and her counsel to release the alleged video.
LEGAL COUNSEL FOR WHISTLEBLOWERS: Sinasabi nga po ng mga lawyers ni Mrs. Napoles at siya mismo na may recording of that incident na nagextort ako. Noon ko pa chinachallenge ko sila na ilabas at iplay. (Mrs. Napoles’ lawyers and Napoles herself said they had a recording of that incident where I extorted. I’ve been challenging them to come out with it.)
Story 4: YOLANDA: EAST VISAYAS SIGNAL NO. 4
Super typhoon Yolanda — international name Haiyan — triggers signal number 4 over Eastern Visayas.
State weather bureau Pagasa says the eye of the typhoon is located 453 km Southeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
It is expected to hit land Friday morning in Guiuan, Eastern Samar or Abuyog, Leyte.
The typhoon has maximum sustained winds of 225 km/h near the center and gusts of up to 260 km/h.
It is forecast to move west northwest at 39 kph.
Signal number 4 is up over Eastern Samar, Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran, extreme Northern Cebu including Bantayan Island, Capiz, Aklan and Northern Antique.
Signal number 3 is up over Siargao Island, Dinagat Province, Rest of Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras, Northern Negros Occidental, Northern Negros Oriental, Northern Cebu including Cebu City, Northern Samar, Bohol, Masbate, Ticao Island, Sorsogon, Romblon, and Calamian Group of Islands.
Signal number 2 is up over Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Albay, Extreme Northern Palawan, Burias Island, Rest of Negros Occidental, Rest of Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Rest of Cebu, Camiguin, Surigao Del Norte, Surigao Del Sur, and Agusan del Norte.
Signal number 1 is up over Metro Manila, Bataan, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Southern Quezon, Laguna, Rizal, Cavite, Batangas, Lubang Island, Rest of Northern Palawan including Puerto Princesa, Misamis Oriental, and Agusan del Sur.
Visayas and parts of Luzon and Mindanao are bracing for the arrival of one of the most catastrophic super typhoons this year.
Local government units prepare for mass evacuations ahead of the typhoon, which is expected to cause major damage.
The typhoon is expected to hit areas still recovering from a magnitude 7.2 earthquake last month.
This includes the central island of Bohol, the epicenter of the earthquake that killed more than 200 people.
A local official says at least 5,000 people are still living in tents while waiting for new homes.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council adds local governments ordered evacuations and class suspensions in low-lying and landslide-prone areas.
Weather Philippines says Yolanda has become an “extremely catastrophic super typhoon” and is now “the most powerful of all Super Typhoons for 2013.”
Story 5: AQUINO: PREPARE FOR TYPHOON STRONGER THAN ‘PABLO’
President Benigno Aquino orders local units and government agencies to prepare for the super typhoon.
Aquino says Typhoon Yolanda may be stronger than Typhoon Pablo, which killed more than a thousand people last year.
BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Sa kasalukuyang datos, mukha pong mas matindi ang hagupit ni Yolanda kaysa kay Pablo; nagdarasal na lang nga po tayo na dahil sa tulin ng takbo nito, ay hindi na siya pumirmi sa ating mga lalawigan upang gumawa ng mas marami pang pinsala. (Based on latest data, it looks like Typhoon Yolanda is stronger than Pablo. We are hoping that because of its speed, this typhoon won’t linger to do more damage.)
Aquino says disaster officials are already deploying personnel and equipment to areas expected to be hit by the typhoon.
He also appeals to residents in flood-prone areas to cooperate.
BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Magsilbi rin po sanang babala ang pahayag na ito sa ating mga LGU: Seryosong peligro po ang kinakaharap ng inyong mga nasasakupan. Gawin na po natin ang ating magagawa habang hindi pa lumalapag si Yolanda. (Let this serve as a warning to LGUs: This typhoon poses a serious danger to your constituents. Let us do everything we can while Yolanda has not yet made landfall.)
Story 6: SAMAR, LEYTE BRACE FOR YOLANDA
Samar and Leyte brace for the oncoming storm, as the strongest typhoon this year is expected to hit land Friday morning.
Paterno Esmaquel files this video blog.
This is the San Juanico Bridge, which connects Samar and Leyte — two of the areas to be hardest hit by supertyphoon Yolanda.
Pagasa raised signal number four in the Eastern Visayas region. We can now feel the strong wind and rain in this area.
Pagasa warns residents in these communities to prepare for stronger winds and rain this evening, as it expects Yolanda to make landfall in the Samar-Leyte region Friday morning.
The government advises residents in affected communities to evacuate promptly.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and other government officials are now in the area to oversee evacuation – and other efforts to respond to one of the strongest typhoons in recent history.
Paterno Esmaquel, Rappler, Samar
Story 7: NO ONE CAN GAG THE PRESIDENT – DE LIMA
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says President Benigno Aquino cannot be subjected to orders issued by regular courts.
This comes after a former congressman asked the Supreme Court to stop Aquino from talking about the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP.
De Lima says, “No one can gag the President who is constitutionally immune from any kind of suit during his incumbency.”
De Lima adds the President cannot be subjected to orders issued by regular courts to –quote– “diminish or compromise his ability to regularly perform the functions of his office.”
On Wednesday, Former Iloilo Rep Augusto Syjuco Jr asks the Court to stop Aquino and his officials from discussing the DAP…
while a case is pending before the Supreme Court.
Syjuco says Aquino’s primetime address last week defending the DAP was a “clear violation of the sub judice rule.”
Story 8: TESTS POINT TO POLONIUM POISONING IN ARAFAT DEATH – AL JAZEERA
Al-Jazeera reports Swiss scientists who obtained samples from the body of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat conclude he probably died from polonium poisoning.
Scientists found at least 18 times the normal levels of radioactive polonium in his remains.
The report adds the results of the tests “moderately support” the theory that Arafat was poisoned.
Arafat died in 2004 at age 75, four weeks after he first fell ill October that year.
French doctors said he died of a massive stroke.
The Palestinian leader’s remains were exhumed in November 2012, following claims he was murdered.
Story 9: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 5, Twitter announces it will list at $26 a share on the New York Stock Exchange.
70 million shares of the microblogging service company will be available at the listed price, with 10.5 million shares of common stock sold as a 30-day option for underwriters.
The total value is pegged at $2.1 billion.
At number 7, the World Meteorological Organization or WMO says concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide hit new records in 2012.
WMO says, the atmospheric increase of carbon dioxide from 2011 to 2012 is higher than the average growth rate over the past 10 years.
The organization warns about more frequent mega storms, water shortages and diseases unless significant changes are made to control emissions.
A professor of ocean physics at the University of Cambridge says carbon dioxide has a “ratchet effect.”
And at number 8, scientists say asteroid strikes similar to the one which hit Russia early this year may become more frequent.
In February 2013, an asteroid about 19 meters wide exploded over Russia, causing widespread damage and injury to more than 1,000 people.
Professor Peter Brown says there is a need for a system that — quote — “scans the sky almost continuously and looks for these objects just before they hit the earth.”
The strike rates of asteroids are estimated to be two to 10 times higher than previously believed.
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