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The rise and fall of Napoles' businesses

MANILA, Philippines - Over the course of 10 years, Napoles built up her wealth and government connections, a network spanning lawmakers, Cabinet Secretaries and even Chiefs of Staff.
Natashya Gutierrez reports.

 

As the multi-million pork barrel scam got bigger and bigger, life got better and better for mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Her former employee turned primary whistleblower Benhur Luy tells the Senate…
Napoles connived with lawmakers to channel their pork barrel to her bogus non-governmental organizations.
In exchange they got hefty kickbacks.
Luy said when he first worked for Napoles in 2002, her family was already living in high-end Ayala Alabang village and owned expensive cars.

BENHUR LUY
WHISTLEBLOWER
Nung ano, ano ba talagang negosyo nitong ni Madame. Nung dati, naaalala ko pa po, nagbebenta pa kami nung anak niya, sinasamahan ko pa sila ng mga ano, mga ballpen. (I wondered, 'What is her business?' Before then, I didn't know about anything, I'd even go with her son to sell ballpens.)

ALAN PETER CAYETANO
Medyo close kayo talaga? (You and the family were close?)

BENHUR LUY
WHISTLEBLOWER
Yes po. (Yes.)

As a government contractor, Luy says Napoles has contacts in all branches of government including the Budget Department, the Commission on Audit, the Ombudsman and implementing agencies.

ALAN PETER CAYETANO
PHILIPPINE SENATOR
Kasi nabasa namin sa dyaryo galante magregalo. (We read in the newspapers that she’s a generous gift giver.)

BENHUR LUY
WHISTLEBLOWER
Sa mga kausap niya. (To the people she’s in business with.)

ALAN PETER CAYETANO
PHILIPPINE SENATOR
Parang part of doing business. (It’s part of doing business.)

BENHUR LUY
WHISTLEBLOWER
Pero kaming mga empleyado, hindi. (But to us employees, she’s not generous.)

ALAN PETER CAYETANO
PHILIPPINE SENATOR
Mga mamahalin na bags. (Like, expensive bags.)

BENHUR LUY
WHISTLEBLOWER
Yes po. (Yes.)


ALAN PETER CAYETANO
PHILIPPINE SENATOR
Sinong bumibil nun? (Who buys those gifts?)

BENHUR LUY
WHISTLEBLOWER
Siya mismo. (She does.)

Lawmakers even went to Napoles' office in Discovery Suites in Pasig to peddle their PDAF for rebates.
By late 2006, business was so good the Napoleses started acquiring property.
She also expanded her scheme to tap into other government funds outside pork.
While Napoles made the most from lawmakers' pork barrel, it was in 2009 that she hit the jackpot. That year, Napoles received P900 million from the Malampaya Fund through the Department of Agrarian Reform.
Luy said Napoles had a total of 20 NGOs.
8 dealt with PDAF, while 12 targeted Malampaya.
The Malampaya transaction was one of her last major deals.
By 2010, the goose that laid the golden egg was under threat.
Under the Aquino administration, the DBM tightened its regulations.

BENHUR LUY
WHISTLEBLOWER
Naghigpit po. Kasi may mga requirements po na hinihingi ang mga implementing agencies na hirap din po kami maka-secure. Pagdating po sa SEC ang dami rin pong hinihingi ng SEC bago po sila mag-issue ng certificate of good standing. (It became tighter because the implementing agencies prescribed requirements that were hard for us to secure. When it came to SEC, it also prescribed many requirements before they would issue a certificate of good standing.)

RALPH RECTO
PHILIPPINE SENATOR
Meron pa rin po bang NABCOR ngayon? (Does NABCOR still exist now?)

BENHUR LUY
WHISTLEBLOWER
Yan ang di ko na po alam. (I don’t know.)

RALPH RECTO
PHILIPPINE SENATOR
Pero wala ka ng transaction na alam? (But you don’t know of any further transactions?)

BENHUR LUY
WHISTLEBLOWER
Wala na po, basta nag LGUs na po kami. (No, I don’t. We moved on to LGUs.)

In 2011, COA started probing anomalies in Napoles' transactions.
Employees began talking among themselves, afraid.

BENHUR LUY
WHISTLEBLOWER
Di ko rin alam kung saan ako magsusumbong, kasi ano ba ako, syempre isang simpleng tao lang tapos ang magiging kabangga ko si Madame, tapos very influential pa. Sabi ko, bahala na kung ano mangyayari, but I have to tell everything. Para sa taong-bayan, gagawin ko yun. (We didn't know who to tell. I’m just a simple person and the person I’m going against is Madame, she’s very influential. We'll see what happens but I have to tell everything.For the country, I will do it.)

Napoles' dramatic rags to riches story may reach its climax next week.
The National Bureau of Investigation NBI is now preparing to file plunder charges against Napoles and lawmakers involved in the scam.
Connections in powerful places and generous gift giving.
This was the Napoles formula, the foundation upon which her wealth was built.
With just one powerful tell-all -- her decade’s work, comes crashing down.
Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Manila.- Rappler.com