Napoles deflects senators’ questions
Senators try to extract answers from alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles but she manages to deflect most of the questions

MANILA, Philippines – 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 alam sa kanya… Hindi ko matandaan, sir. I invoke my right to self-incrimination. (I don’t know. I can’t remember… I can’t remember, sir.)

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?)


CHIZ ESCUDERO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Na ni isang piso ninyo hindi nanggaling sa anumang scam na may kinalaman sa PDAF? (Not even a single peso of your moeny came from any kind of scam related to the PDAF?)


CHIZ ESCUDERO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: 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.

JANET LIM NAPOLES, ALLEGED PORK BARREL MASTERMIND: 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. Nakakaawa nga ho ang mga senador na nada-drag ang pangalan, yung mga congressman. Hindi po totoo. (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. 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.

JANET LIM NAPOLES, ALLEGED PORK BARREL MASTERMIND: 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. Dahil po sa dami nung papeles na kailangang i-shred. Bumili po siya ng heavy duty na isang shredder para po hindi mag-overheat. (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. 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:

ALAN PETER CAYETANO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: You admit na mayaman ka? You have a lot of money and resources? (You admit you’re rich?)


ALAN PETER CAYETANO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: For example, How would you consider yourself? Average, middle class, upper class, mayaman?

JANET LIM NAPOLES, ALLEGED PORK BARREL MASTERMIND: 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. 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.


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