MANILA, Philippines—The National Bureau of Investigation has dispatched several teams to arrest the alleged brains of the “P10-billion pork barrel scam” Janet Lim-Napoles and her brother on grounds of serious illegal detention of whistleblower Benhur Luy, said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in an interview with Radyo Inquirer 990AM on Thursday.
De Lima said the teams, which were swiftly formed by NBI Director Nonnatus Roxas after the arrest warrants’ release Wednesday, have been searching for Napoles and Reynald “Jojo” Lim since Wednesday night but could not find them in any of their known addresses in Makati and Taguig.`
Radyo Inquirer said both De Lima and Roxas believed the two remained in the country, noting that the arrest warrant has the effect of a hold departure order.
“If she is seen in the airport or any port of exit, she will automatically be detained,” De Lima said, adding that the immigration officer must report it right away so the NBI may serve the warrant of arrest.
The Justice chief assured the public that Immigration OIC Siegfred Mison has been closely monitoring the issue, ensuring that all immigration personnel knew about the lookout bulletin against the two, even before the arrest warrants were released by the Makati Regional Trial Court.
She also revealed that the Anti-Money Laundering Council is already looking into Napoles’ bank accounts.
“They (AMLC) can’t announce their moves right now but they are already working with us,” she said.
A report Thursday by the Philippine Daily Inquirer said P53 million were withdrawn from the accounts of various non-government organizations and deposited to Napoles’ Metrobank branch. In what is considered the most detailed account of fund transfers involving the pork barrel scam, four whistleblowers submitted a statement enumerating the transfers, including a P39.7 deposit on November 12, 2009.
De Lima enjoined Napoles “to face the music” and make things easier for the authorities.
“She said she is willing to face the investigations on the PDAF scam. If she is hiding [from the law] how will she do that?”
De Lima said it was not surprising if well-connected Napoles had been tipped off about the arrest.
On March 22, the NBI rescued a detained Luy from Napoles’ Taguig condo. He was the first to reveal that Napoles and her relatives had set-up and used non-government organizations to strike deals with lawmakers for the liquidation of their PDAF.