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Palace puts distance between Aquino, Napoles


Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda: The President doesn’t even know Napoles, Paquito Ochoa Jr. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/ RICHARD REYES

MANILA, Philippines—Janet who?

President Aquino has never met Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged chief architect of the P10-billion scam using the pork barrel funds of lawmakers.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda made the statement Monday while commenting on reports that Brian Yamsuan, a media consultant of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., had been fired for his supposed links to Napoles.

Lacierda said he only learned of Yamsuan’s dismissal in the papers.

“According to Jed Eva (assistant secretary at the Office of the Executive Secretary), that person has been terminated. I didn’t even know he was a consultant for Secretary Ochoa,” Lacierda said.

President Aquino reportedly ordered Yamsuan’s dismissal after learning of his links to Napoles. Yamsuan had brokered a meeting between Napoles and Inquirer editors, columnists and reporters earlier this month.

Eva confirmed Yamsuan’s dismissal to Vera Files—which reported on the matter—citing “conflicts of interest with his other consultancies.”

Pressed about the link of Ochoa’s law office to Napoles, Lacierda ruled out any ties.

Going after everyone

“What does the ES (executive secretary) have to do with this? Nothing. The prosecution of Napoles will go ahead. Do you think this will continue if there’s a connection to ES? We’re going after everyone,” he said.

“I cannot figure it out. You want to do some investigation? Go and investigate. If you can find [anything], let us know, and we will do something about it,” he added.

The MOST (Marcos Ochoa Serapio Tan) law office acted as collaborating counsel in the preliminary stage of a kidnapping case filed by whistle-blower Benhur Luy against Napoles, but eventually withdrew from the case before it was dismissed by the Department of Justice.

“The President has been saying a lot about going after the people who are liable for the misuse of government funds. How much do I need to tell you that we are going to go after each and every person who is liable for the misuse of government funds? Is there any connection with the past? The President doesn’t even know Napoles,” Lacierda said in response to a reporter’s question.

Charges poised

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is set to file charges against Napoles for her alleged key role in the conversion of P10 billion in pork barrel funds into kickbacks through dummy foundations, bogus beneficiaries and forged signatures.

Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim disappeared before enforcers could serve warrants for their arrest in connection with the alleged illegal detention of Napoles’ cousin and former chief of staff Luy.

Luy, who was rescued by the NBI in March after a three-month detention, and former employees of Napoles blew the lid on the scam by submitting affidavits and documents detailing the modus operandi.

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Tags: Benigno Aquino III , Brian Yamsuan , Edwin Lacierda , Janet Lim Napoles , pork barrel scam

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