Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Abad, other Noy allies in ‘Napolist’

By Christina Mendez 
The Philippine Star
Militant groups stage a rally at the Department of Justice in Manila yesterday, calling on Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to release the ‘pork’ list made by Janet Lim-Napoles. EDD GUMBAN
Militant groups stage a rally at the Department of Justice in Manila yesterday, calling on Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to release the ‘pork’ list made by Janet Lim-Napoles. EDD GUMBAN
MANILA, Philippines – It started with a loan in 2000 to then Batanes congressman Florencio Abad, who later explained to Janet Lim-Napoles the system that would lay the foundations for the pork barrel scam.
The alleged involvement of President Aquino’s trusted ally and budget secretary in the scam is one of the bombshells revealed by Napoles in an unsigned affidavit as well as the narration of events that her husband Jimmy provided presidential adviser for rehabilitation and recovery Panfilo Lacson.
Aside from Abad, there are over a dozen other administration allies – mostly congressmen – implicated in Napoles’ list of those who allegedly misused the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
As narrated to Lacson, Napoles – refrerred to by her initials JLN – claimed she was introduced to Abad in 2000 when she lent him some money, which the former Batanes congressman promptly paid with interest.
Abad then reportedly imparted how he had used foundations to roll out the initial financial investment.
“JLN got curious and eventually JLN was taught how to form foundations. She bought PSDFI to be able to comply with the requirement that the NGO has a track record,” the narration read.
PDSFI is the acronym for Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc., which was among the non-government organizations (NGOs) used by Napoles as a front for siphoning pork barrel funds of some senators and congressmen.
The Commission on Audit (COA) had identified PSDFI as a conduit foundation linked to Napoles.
Napoles engaged in the fertilizer business until she created more foundations in a bid to propagate her pork barrel dealings with lawmakers.
Napoles also identified Ruby Tuason, Maya Santos, Mat Ranillo, Jen Corpus and Allan Ruste in the web of pork barrel corruption activities.
Agents would approach and inform Napoles of the funds available for senators or congressmen, and the agents would negotiate for a 40 to 50 percent commission per transaction.
In the narration, Napoles also bolstered claims by her relative and once trusted employee, whistle-blower Benhur Luy, that he was tasked to follow up the release of Special Allotment Release Orders (SARO) from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
The initial 50 percent of the 50 percent commission in a deal would be given to the proponent upon negotiation. Once the SAROs are released, the balance of the commission would be given to the proponent.
“As time progressed, Benhur was able to build the relations with DBM to follow up. We don’t give the agencies except for the occasional donations for Christmas,” the narration added.
Napoles also mentioned her role in the P900-million Malampaya Fund scam, noting that Ruby Tuason, former social secretary of then President Joseph Estrada, met with her in November 2009.
It was Tuason who supposedly dealt with her about the use of Malampaya funds, where there was eventually a 60 percent commission.
The funds were supposedly used for the elections, the narration read.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) was the agency tagged in the disbursement of funds.
Napoles claimed that it was during the Malampaya dealings that Tuason was able to build a P300-million house in Dasmariñas Village in Makati before she left for the United States.
This bolstered earlier claims by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, one of three senators facing plunder charges for the pork barrel scam, that Tuason was not credible to become a state witness because she benefited from more anomalous deals using the Malampaya Fund.
Napoles also revealed that Tuason was involved in various project insertions of other politicians for projects ranging from P50 million to P300 million.
Lacson, who now heads the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR), had furnished the Senate Blue Ribbon committee with copies of the unsigned affidavit, narration of events as well as the list of senators, congressmen, agents and contacts at the various government agencies involved in the scam.
In his letter to Blue Ribbon chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, Lacson expressed hope that the documents “will assist the investigation being conducted by your Committee and address the clamor of our people for transparency in public service.”
Guingona provided the media with copies of the documents shortly after receiving them from the former senator.
Lacson bared on Monday night that Abad and administration allies Senators Francis Escudero and Alan Peter Cayetano are included in the Napoles list.
Lacson made the revelation in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Bandila last Monday night and also disclosed that Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Gregorio Honasan are on the list.
He also revealed in an interview yesterday that there were 21 former and incumbent senators, 90 congressmen and two Cabinet members implicated in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam and the Malampaya Fund anomaly, based on the lists of Napoles and Luy.
Lacson also confirmed that the list also included Senators Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr., who are already charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman.
A report on GMA News, on the other hand, said the Napoles list had 13 incumbent senators: Santiago, Escudero, Cayetano and his sister Pia Cayetano, Honasan, Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Enrile, Estrada and Revilla.
Citing the camp of Napoles as source, the report also implicated former senators Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo, Teresa Aquino-Oreta, Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Manuel Villar Jr. and the late Robert Barbers.
The STAR also published yesterday an alleged list from Napoles that included 11 incumbent and former senators: Enrile, Estrada, Revilla, Sotto, Legarda, Pimentel, Villar, Cayetano, Honasan, Escudero and Barbers.
The Senate Blue Ribbon committee issued last Monday a subpoena for Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to compel her to release whatever documents she has from Napoles, including the list of legislators who supposedly had transactions with the businesswoman over the years.
Senate Blue Ribbon committee chairman Teofisto Guingona III issued the subpoena for De Lima which was signed by Senate President Franklin Drilon.
The list in the possession of De Lima was part of the statements given by Napoles to her during a five-hour meeting last April 21.
Details of the list have not been released by De Lima, but it reportedly contains over a hundred names of incumbent and former lawmakers.
In the case of Lacson, his list reportedly came from Napoles’ husband Jimmy during a meeting earlier this year.
De Lima has confirmed that Napoles, in her five-hour meeting with her, pinned down Senators Enrile, Estrada and Revilla.
De Lima: Release of list premature
The disclosure of the supposed list from Napoles containing names of lawmakers who allegedly benefited from the pork barrel scam was premature and could muddle up government’s efforts to uncover the truth in the fund anomaly.
De Lima said this yesterday as she refused to confirm reports naming lawmakers supposedly included in the list.
“I don’t want to further aggravate that kind of scenario where those possessing the supposed lists would individually disclose and name names. I don’t like that. For me, it’s muddling the entire thing,” she told reporters in an ambush interview.
“I cannot be confirming anything on that (list) at this point because as you all know, the Senate Blue Ribbon committee has issued a subpoena for me to submit to them on or before Thursday, May 15, the certified true copies of the Napoles list and affidavit,” she said.
But De Lima said that while she is ready to submit the list to the committee, she might ask for an extension of the deadline because Napoles has yet to complete her affidavit.
“I am still waiting for the complete affidavit from the Napoles camp. Hopefully I will get it on or before the Thursday deadline. If not, I will ask for a little extension. But may I reiterate, I will comply with the subpoena,” she stressed.
De Lima said she would still advise the Senate to exercise prudence and caution in handling the list as it is still undergoing validation.
“Of course I cannot impose on them, I would only advise them to exercise prudence, circumspection and utmost responsibility in handling this matter, in handling the list and the affidavit once submitted to them,” she explained.
De Lima said that the list in her possession was not sanitized, a concern aired by various sectors, including lawmakers, due to the delay in its disclosure to the public.
She said Napoles herself is still the best person to discuss the list before the Senate hearing.
De Lima issued the statement after Lacson publicly confirmed some names included in the list given to him by the family of Napoles.
Senate President Drilon and Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said that the list should be supported by documentary evidence in order to be fair to the legislators named in the list.
“That was just a list. From the start, I have been saying that I support the release of the list but this should be supported by evidence. Without the supporting documents, this is just a list,” Drilon said.
He said that the public must be careful about the lists coming out, especially with the election season coming up.
“There are a lot of political operators looking to earn a living,” Drilon said.
Cayetano, whose name appeared in the list provided by Lacson, said that this was part of the ploy of Napoles to confuse and distract the people away from her case.
Cayetano said that the special allotment release orders and other relevant documents related to the use of the PDAF should be released and compared to the claims of Napoles in order to determine if these were true.
“Secretary De Lima and Napoles should also appear (before the Senate) so that the truth would be known,” Cayetano said.
After implicating a number of senators in the so-called Napoles list, Lacson suddenly clammed up yesterday and denied there had been instructions from President Aquino for him to shut up.
“No gag order from the President. I just want to refocus on Yolanda at this critical time when the PDNA and the cluster groups’ reports are to be presented to the Cabinet and the President,” he said in a text message to reporters.
PDNA stands for post disaster needs assessment for areas affected by the typhoon.
“I’m sorry but I’m not talking about Napoles anymore. I want to refocus on Yolanda,” explained Lacson.
Summon Napoles
Senator Sergio Osmeña III said yesterday that alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Napoles should be called to testify before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee in order to validate the list of legislators that she allegedly provided to De Lima and Lacson.
Osmeña said that the list of Napoles is the one that would carry the most weight because of the assumption that she had personal knowledge of all the transactions that took place in the pork barrel scam.
“It cannot be a list coming from any Tom, Dick or Harry. It has to come from Napoles herself because she is the one with personal knowledge,” Osmeña said.
According to Osmeña, every other list that has been appearing before the media, other than the one from Napoles herself, should be treated as nothing more than “chismis” or rumors.
He said that the list provided by Lacson to the Blue Ribbon committee could serve as a basis for comparison to the Napoles list that was submitted to De Lima.
“I’d like to take a look at it and see whether it bears much resemblance, little resemblance or no resemblance to the list of Napoles. But definitely, if we call Napoles here, we will ask her and show her also the Lacson list, and tell her that there are some names here that are not in the other list. Which is which? We’ll let her clarify that,” Osmeña said.
Even if the credibility of Napoles is questionable, Osmeña said that she should be given a chance to speak because she was the one who was supposedly present to witness all the transactions that took place.
“The biggest liars in the world can have credibility just by telling the truth that can be validated,” he said.
Lacson said that Napoles should be summoned to the Senate to testify so that she could explain why some names present in the alleged list coming from Luy were not in her list.
He emphasized that what was in his possession was merely an unsigned affidavit from Napoles.
Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said President Aquino should also ensure that allies implicated in the scam would be charged.
“The concerned officials must stop pussyfooting, let’s get straight to the point and do what needs to be done. There should be no kid gloves treatment to Secretary Abad and other administration allies who may be implicated in the pork barrel scam,” Romualdez said.
Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, a member of the bloc, said justice should be meted without fear or favor.
He said there has been no action in the past several months against Cabinet officials tagged in the scam, including Abad.
“I think the more important question is, if P-Noy claims that he received a list also, why did he only tell us now, and secondly why did he not relieve the Cabinet secretaries involved? I can smell an attempt to cover-up,” Navotas City Rep. Tobias Tiangco, secretary general and spokesman of the United Nationalist Alliance, said.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. cautioned the public against believing all the lists being bandied around by some personalities.
“The Senate Blue Ribbon committee will summon Leila de Lima. Let’s take it from there,” Belmonte said.
Other members of the House warned the people that the existence of too many lists is jeopardizing the pork barrel scam investigation and the prosecution of the real culprits.
“It’s a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. With at least three known lists of lawmakers involved in Napoles’ pork barrel scam and none being revealed, the case is officially muddled and those who have benefited from the scam are practically given a ticket to freedom,” Rep. Luz Ilagan of party-list group Gabriela said.
Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said the proliferation of pork barrel scam lists could be part of a grand scheme to muddle up the issue and destroy the credibility of a genuine list.
“I suspect that there are forces or individuals who are orchestrating to confuse the public. Public vigilance is the call of the day to frustrate these machinations,” he said.
Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said the circulation of the so-called Napoles list has so muddled the pork barrel controversy that it’s now difficult for people to determine what to believe and for prosecutors to get to the bottom of the scam.With Edu Punay, Marvin Sy, Delon Porcalla, Jess Diaz, Paolo Romero

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