MANILA, Philippines - In a surprise appearance, pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy faces the Senate, with details of the corruption and collusion between Janet Napoles and lawmakers.
Ayee Macaraig reports.
LEILA DE LIMA, JUSTICE SECRETARY: I am inclined to reconsider my initial stance. Maybe it is in the public interest to hear the representative voice of whistleblowers.
The sudden appearance of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy stuns the Senate gallery.
But what’s more stunning are his tales of corruption.
He says his cousin, Janet Napoles, the alleged queen of the pork barrel scam, perfected her system through her extensive network of government contacts.
Luy says as Napoles’ trusted aide, he saw how the release of development funds was rigged from the beginning.
BENHUR LUY, PRINCIPAL WHISTLEBLOWER: So ang nangyayari po, okay, bibilhin ni Ms. Napoles ang PDAF or sometimes, mga lawmakers tatawag sa kanya. Magsasubmit na kami ng listing ano ang gusto mong gawin? Sabi niya, ‘Sige sir tatawag muna ako ng agencies kung saan pwede.' (Ms. Napoles would talk with the lawmakers and come up with an agreement, let’s say 50%. Sometimes lawmakers would call her and say, “We’re going to submit listings. What would you like to do?” She would say, “Alright. Let me call the agencies we can use.”)
Next, Napoles’ employees prepare draft endorsement letters they send to the lawmakers’ chiefs of staff.
These are eventually sent to the Department of Budget and Management, which issues the order for the fund release.
At this point, Luy says Napoles begins issuing the so-called rebates.
BENHUR LUY, PRINCIPAL WHISTLEBLOWER: Tatawag kami sa DBM kasi may contact po si Ms Napoles sa DBM. After nun, dahil may receiving copy na. magbabayad na po si Ms Napoles sa kausap niya. Katulad ng nabanggit ko kanina. Halimbawa ang usapan 10M, 50%, so that’s 5M and them, Ang kalakaran, 50% upon listing and then another 50% upon SARO. Magpapalabas na po si Ms Napoles ng pera. Liquid po si Ms Napoles, marami siyang pera, may project pa siya sa DAR. (We call up DBM because Ms Napoles has contacts in DBM. After that, Ms Napoles pays her contacts. The standard is, 50% upon listing and another 50% upon SARO. Ms Napoles will release the money. Ms Napoles has a lot of money, she even has projects in DAR.)
Luy says Napoles’ company secures the funds after preparing documents for the memorandum of agreement and lawmakers endorse the project to the implementing agencies.
All parties have a cut in the deal: 50% for the lawmakers, 10% for the implementing agencies and 40% for Napoles.
Many of the projects are purely bogus.
Luy says lawmakers and their chiefs of staff actively coordinate with Napoles’ employees, frequenting their office to get cash.
There were times Luy visited a certain senator at the Senate.
ALAN CAYETANO, SENATOR: Anong floor ang pinuntahan mo? Di mo pwede sabihin ang pangalan, palayaw? Initial? (What floor did you go to? You can’t tell us the name? Nickname? Initials?)
LUY: Sexy. Kasi mataba daw tapos biglang pumayat kaya sexy ang tawag. (‘Sexy’ is a man. He used to be fat and he suddenly got thinner, so that’s why he’s called ‘sexy.’)
Luy says when the NGOs get the money, employees withdraw it in cold cash.
LUY: Kasi siympre di kasya sa kanyang vault. May mga bag nilalagay namin sa bed niya tapos sometimes nasa bathtub. Dun na namin pinapatong-patong. Nasa bag siya. (We put the cash in bags. The money is in her bath tub, then we put it in bags.)
Senators ask Luy about Napoles’ media statements pointing to another person as the brains in the scam.
LUY: Siya ang mastermind kasi siya ang boss ko. ([Napoles] is the mastermind because she is my boss.)
While Luy refused to name names, De Lima says the lawmakers will soon be known when the Justice Department files the first batch of cases.
This early, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman TG Guingona says the lawmakers are liable for plunder.
AYEE MACARAIG, REPORTING: With Luy’s surprise testimony, senators say they’ve completed the picture on how the pork barrel came from the lawmakers and returned to their pockets. With the Senate possibly wrapping up its probe, the controversy shifts from the court of public opinion to the longer and harder battle in court. Ayee Macaraig, Rappler.