‘Leah, Lalaine, Malou,’ Napoles’ contacts in DBMBy Nancy C. Carvajal
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Three staff members of Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos were the contact persons at the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) whenever they inquired about the status of “pork barrel” fund releases, according to whistle-blowers Benhur K. Luy and Merlina Suñas.
According to Luy and Suñas, Janet Lim-Napoles, CEO of JLN Corp., told them to call Relampagos’ staff, whom they only knew by their first names—Leah, Malou or Lalaine—whenever they needed to follow up on lawmakers’ Special Allotment Release Order (Saro) against their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or to inquire about the release of the Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA).”
The Saro and the NCA are the fund release documents issued by the DBM to departments and agencies chargeable against the pork barrel funds of legislators.
“While waiting for the release of the NCA, Napoles would call the office of Usec Relampagos and she would talk to the secretaries, Leah, Malou or Lalaine, and would badger them about the status of the Saro,” they said.
Luy and Suñas said they also called the three secretaries on several occasions on orders of Napoles to inquire about the Saro or the NCA.
They were employees of Napoles who have turned whistle-blowers and revealed how Napoles accessed about P10 billion worth of pork barrel funds and channeled them to fake nongovernment organizations (NGOs) that she set up with ghost projects.
Only 2 questions
Relampagos’ staff only asked two questions: “How much is the amount and whose PDAF?”
The whistle-blowers explained that they never called on their own initiative but had to wait for instructions from Napoles because “the transactions were known only to the lawmakers and Napoles.”
“When we called, we always immediately identified ourselves as staff of Mrs. Napoles,” they said.
“Sometimes when it’s [the release order] not there yet, they tell us it has not reached their office yet,” they said.
While Suñas said she had never been to the DBM office, Luy said he did several personal follow-ups on Napoles’ orders.
The whistle-blowers also said they have no idea about the extent of the three Relampagos staff’s participation, “or if they are involved at all.”
The whistle-blowers explained that in cases where the NCA had already been downloaded at the DBM regional office, they would also call that office and introduce themselves as staff of the sponsoring lawmaker for that particular project being carried out by the Napoles NGO.
“We call the DBM regional office for a follow-up and introduce ourselves as staff of the lawmaker and inquire about the downloaded NCA,” they said.
After the money is sent to the implementing agency of the project, the agency then prepares a voucher for the dummy NGO.
The whistle-blowers said a memorandum of agreement between the NGO and the implementing agency, or a third party like a local government unit, which would be a recipient of the project, will then be submitted to the agency for it to release the money.
After the release of the check from the agency, the money is deposited in Napoles NGO’s account.
After two days, the money is withdrawn either to be deposited in Napoles’ personal accounts or withdrawn in cash to be given to Napoles.
“After the three-day check-clearing period, the money will be withdrawn by the president of the NGO or by an employee representive of the JLN Corp.—which would either be John Raymund de Asis, Eulogio Rodriguez or Fernando Ramirez—who would then take the money to Napoles at the JLN Corp. at 2502, Discovery Center, 25 ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, or to 18B North Tower Pacific Plaza Condominium, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig,” they said.
“The employees would then prepare the liquidation documents for the state implementing agency with Napoles and the latter’s children. They would invent fictitious names as beneficiaries of that particular project. Then the employees would sign the documents on the orders of Napoles. Sometimes Napoles herself would sign the documents. If they are unable to finish the liquidation documents, Napoles would take the documents home to her condo and let her housemaids, drivers and security officers finish the job,” they said.