Napoles: I’m a target of extortion, harassmentBy Julie M. Aurelio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Saying she was a target of extortion, businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles on Friday said she was willing to open her bank accounts and undergo a lie detector test to cooperate fully with the ongoing investigation into her involvement in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
She also appealed for fairness from Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
Appearing before the media with her new lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, Napoles released a statement in which she said she was willing to open her bank accounts to scrutiny and undergo a lie detector test if her accuser, Benhur Luy, and his lawyer would do the same.
“(Napoles) is a victim of harassment and a target of extortionists. She therefore looks forward to a full-blown investigation so that, if true that there were irregularities in the use of the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund), only those who are responsible are made liable,” the statement also read.
Her statement also dared investigators to look into the people behind Luy, and asked that the Department of Justice (DOJ) exclude from investigation the agents from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) involved in the arrest of her brother over the supposed kidnapping of Luy.
President Aquino had asked the NBI to look into the scam involving P10 billion in pork barrel (also known as PDAF) that a group headed by Napoles allegedly pulled off over the past 10 years using a network of bogus nongovernment organizations.
The alleged scam, exposed by the Inquirer in a series of stories this month, involved the pork barrel of five senators and 23 members of the House of Representatives and has renewed calls from different sectors to scrap the pork barrel system.
A senator is given an allocation of P200 million from the PDAF yearly; a member of the House gets P70 million for their pet projects.
Lawmakers who took part in the syndicate allegedly received up to 60 percent of their pork in the form of commissions from companies headed by Napoles.
But senators named in the scam have accused the Aquino administration of orchestrating a “demolition job” against the opposition ahead of the presidential election in 2016.
Kapunan maintained that her client was never involved in any government contract and was willling to cooperate in any investigation to air her side in the proper forum. She added that Napoles was willing to open her bank accounts to scrutiny “with the appropriate court order.”
In her prepared statement, Napoles said she was willing to undergo a lie detector test if her accuser, Luy, and his lawyer Levito Baligod, would do the same.
Kapunan said she wrote to De Lima because of the seemingly “one-sided” NBI probe.
Kapunan also asked De Lima that the NBI personnel tagged in the arrest of Napoles’ brother over Luy’s supposed kidnapping be excluded from the probe “so that the public is assured of a fair, legitimate and impartial inquiry.”
In her statement, Napoles said the NBI agents “failed to produce any arrest warrant” when they picked up her brother. The agents were identified as Rodante Berou, Redendor Valdez, Adrian Feudo, Winmar Louie De Ramos, Menandro Cariaga, Georgina Brahim, Dario Dones Jr., Marlon Baltazar and Rolando Argabioso.
Kapunan also challenged investigators to uncover those behind Luy and to probe their motivations.
“Who are those who have helped or are in conspiracy with Benhur? That is what the NBI should look into,” the lawyer added.
The Napoles statement said that “…the NBI and the media should ascertain the credibility of the ‘whistle-blowers,’ as well as (their) motivations and (those of) their handlers. Even before this controversy started, Ms Napoles had instituted a criminal complaint against Luy for qualified theft in the prosecutor’s office in Pasig City. As a result, there is now a criminal case against Luy in the regional trial court of Pasig City. Further, Luy is known for his habitual use of illegal drugs, his promiscuous sexual activities with different men, and his penchant for collecting illegal pornographic materials.”
Added the statement: “The media should look into Attorney Baligod’s role in all of this. Attorney Baligod is the ‘legal justification’ being used by the NBI agents to harass the family of Ms Napoles. Exactly how close is Attorney Baligod to the NBI? What is Attorney Baligod’s relationship with the NBI? …How is Benhur Luy’s Atty. Levito Baligod related to DOJ’s Regional State Prosecutor Rommel Baligod?”
According to Napoles’ statement, “(o)n 27 March 2013, at Inagiku in Shangrila Hotel Makati, Attorney Baligod asked Ms Napoles to pay P300 million, plus requirements needed for investors’ visas for Canada for the entire Luy family, costs of travel expenses to Canada, and pocket money to Canada amounting to $1.5 million. In addition, he asked for a business in Zamboanga for Cherry Ann Luy, sister of Luy, who did not want to move to Canada with the rest of the family. According to Attorney Baligod, the share of the NBI is included in the amount he is asking for.
“Ms Napoles fully supports, and is willing to cooperate with, the Department of Justice and Secretary Leila de Lima in their investigation of the alleged P10-billion PDAF scam. However, it is imperative and absolutely necessary for them to also investigate the NBI agents who have been acting as agents of Attorney Baligod and the attempt to extort money from Ms Napoles,” the statement said.
The statement said the agents “should NOT be part of any investigation into this controversy so that the public is assured of a fair, legitimate and impartial inquiry.”
Kapunan said she had raised these points in her letter to the DOJ.
In the media forum, Napoles said she had real estate and coal mining businesses in Indonesia but denied being an incorporator, trustee nor officer of any of the 21 foundations allegedly involved in the scam.
Her statement said that “(Napoles) did not create nor cause the creation of these foundations. She has never signed for, nor represented these foundations in any way. A simple checking of the records in the Securities and Exchange Commission can easily confirm these facts.”
Tags: Benhur Luy , Department of Justice , DoJ , extortion , harassment , Janet Lim Napoles , Leila de Lima , lie detector test , Lorna Kapunan , Napoles , National Bureau of Investigation , NBI , P10-billion pork barrel scam , PDAF , Priority Development Assistance Fund