Two new witnesses in the P10-billion pork barrel scam have come forward, saying they have seen millions of pesos flowing into the office of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles on the 25th floor of Discovery Suites in Ortigas Center in Pasig City.
The two new witnesses asked not to be named for now. The whistle-blowers said their relatives were under pressure to silence them.
“We counted millions (of pesos) placed in big bags in one of the rooms of the JLN (Corp.) office. While counting the money, we were discussing where the money could have come from. We never heard of any big companies they owned to earn this large amount of money,” one of the new whistle-blowers said, referring to Napoles and her husband, Jaime Napoles.
The witness said that when he was working for JLN he had seen “big bags brought to the JLN office full of millions of pesos, but I did not mind it and just went about my work as part of the office staff.”
He said there were occasions when the staff was called in to help count money.
“We were really curious about where all that money in big bags being brought to the office came from,” he said.
The witness, who had been designated president of one of 20 bogus NGOs allegedly formed by Napoles, is now an overseas worker.
Levito Baligod, lawyer for six whistle-blowers in the pork scam, told the Inquirer that the two new witnesses had come forward to share their knowledge of the racket.
“Their statements will corroborate the statements given earlier by the other whistle-blowers,” Baligod said.
In a handwritten letter, the first witness expressed support for and gratitude to the original whistle-blower, Benhur Luy, whose alleged kidnapping by Napoles and rescue by the National Bureau of Investigation in March led to the disclosure of the diversion of P10 billion in legislators’ pork barrel over the last 10 years.
“Thank you, Ben, for finding the courage to disclose their racket. We know how they stole money from the national coffers without being detected, and then living lavishly,” the witness wrote in Filipino.
The witness said Evelyn de Leon, allegedly Napoles’ trusted employee, asked him to fill out a form that named him president of an NGO.
Once, he said, De Leon took him and other employees to the apartment of Napoles to sign bank withdrawal slips.
“All the employees of JLN Corp. followed the orders of Napoles. No one there moved without her approval,” the witness said.
Like the earlier whistle-blowers, he said, he was also ordered to sign documents using the names of other people.
Baligod also asked the Inquirer not to publish the names of the two new witnesses, who were presidents of two NGOs allegedly set up by Napoles, for their security.
He said the two had yet to be accepted into the government’s witness protection program.
The whistle-blowers further corroborated earlier statements of Luy and other witnesses that drivers, maids and other household help were asked to sign for manufactured names as recipients of ghost projects.
“The JLN workers could not do anything but follow the orders of Napoles,’’ the witness said.
“I hope they will go to jail for all the wrongdoings and for the people who have suffered because of their greed and for taking things that were not theirs,’’ he added.
The first witness revealed he bore a grudge against Napoles, who fired him when he got sick.
“I went on vacation because I was sick, but they fired me and, worse, they accused me of stealing from them,” he said.
Baligod said he had received handwritten statements from the two new witnesses and he had verified their government-issued identity cards.
He said he was convinced the names of the two were not fictitious.
The two, he said, could shed more light on the operations of the dummy NGOs and Napoles’ links to those groups.
Napoles, president and CEO of JLN Corp., allegedly siphoned off P10 billion in legislators’ pork into her bank accounts through the bogus NGOs.
Six senators, 24 members of the House of Representatives, and an agriculture assistant secretary have been linked to the scam.
Napoles has denied any wrongdoing.
In March, the NBI recommended kidnapping charges against Napoles and Lim involving Luy’s detention.
Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera dismissed the charges on June 10.
Napoles has sued Luy for qualified theft involving P300,000 and P5 million in unauthorized loans.
The case has been resolved and Luy has been ordered arrested. No bail has been recommended for him.
First posted 12:55 am | Saturday, August 10th, 2013