Plunder complaint set vs Napoles, 3 senators
“These people have received kickbacks of more than the plunder threshold of P50 million.”
Janet Lim-Napoles tops the list of 14 people to be charged with plunder in a private complaint that has been finalized by Levito Baligod, counsel of a group of whistle-blowers, for submission to the National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice on Wednesday.
In an interview with the Inquirer, Baligod said Tuesday that apart from Napoles, the alleged brains of a P10-billion pork barrel scam, the list also includes senators, congressmen and their aides and “conduits.”
He said the evidence in the complaint would also be used in the case to be filed by the NBI in the Office of the Ombudsman.
He identified the others facing plunder charges as Gigi Reyes, Ruby Tuason, Pauline Labayen, Richard Cambe, Jose Antonio Evangelista, Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza, Rizalina Seachon-Lanete, Edgar Valdez, Prospero Pichay and Samuel Dangwa.
An Inquirer source said that Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada would be included in the private complaint to be filed based on their letters of endorsement of Napoles’ dummy nongovernment organizations (NGOs) submitted to the Department of Budget and Management, Department of Agriculture and the documents from the Commission on Audit.
He said about 40 other government officials could face malversation charges for their involvement in the alleged racket.
“The documents we submitted will sufficiently show misuse of government funds and the amassing of illegal wealth by the private individuals,” Baligod told the Inquirer.
He said he would leave it up to the authorities who to prosecute among the heads of the several dozen NGOs allegedly controlled by Napoles.
The 49-year-old Napoles is detained at Fort Sto. Domingo, an antiterrorist training camp in Sta. Rosa, Laguna province, following her surrender to President Aquino on Aug. 28, saying she feared for her life.
She went into hiding on Aug. 14 after the Regional Trial Court of Makati City issued a warrant for her arrest in the alleged illegal detention of her aide, Benhur Luy.
Luy, 31, has accused Napoles, head of the JLN group of companies, of funneling P10 billion from the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, to ghost projects of dummy NGOs. Luy has been joined in his accusations against Napoles by at least 10 other whistle-blowers, all of them her former employees.
Daily records of transactions
Baligod said that among the documents to support the whistle-blowers’ private complaint were daily records of financial transactions of JLN Corp. “These were records from 2004 until 2010, duly recorded by the whistle-blowers,” Baligod said.
The pieces of evidence include joint statements of six whistle-blowers and more than 2,000 pages of financial transactions. The accusers, aside from Luy, include Merlina Suñas, Nova Dulay Macalintal and Gertrudes Luy, Benhur’s mother. Baligod asked the Inquirer not to name the other two whistle-blowers for security reasons.
“The six have personal knowledge of the money trail from the NGOs, the lawmakers and Napoles,” Baligod explained. “These whistle-blowers handed millions of money to the lawmakers and their conduits,” he said.
Baligod met with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima Tuesday afternoon. Emerging from the meeting, the lawyer told reporters that the documentary evidence was going through line-by-line cross-checking for accuracy.
“We are conducting a third review because the documents are replete with figures. If we make a mistake in one figure, it will no longer match the bank account [contents], for example, of the legislator or the Saro (statement of allotment release order) number. So we do not want later to be viewed as unreliable when it comes to information,” he said. “We have to be meticulous. We are proofreading [the documents].”
Bank inquiry proceedings
According to Baligod, the documents would be submitted to the NBI team conducting the fact-finding investigation of the PDAF scam.
He said the Court of Appeals order freezing Napoles-linked accounts also helped in the completion of the documents.
“We have the check numbers, the dates and other details. That is why the Anti-Money Laundering Council is undertaking bank inquiry proceedings now so the government [prosecutors] will match the results of the AMLC with the accounting record of Benhur Luy,” Baligod explained.
Asked if the documents would show the paper trail, including bank account names and numbers, vouchers, checks and the payors and payees, the lawyer replied, “Yes.”
“I have 10 whistle-blowers, but for the purposes of proving the plunder and malversation charges, we only need six. The others will be used in the serious illegal detention case. They saw how Napoles detained Benhur. But for the purposes of establishing the financial transactions between and among Napoles, legislators and other government officials, we need at least six,” he said.