MANILA, Philippines –When millions of cash from legislators’ pork barrel would not fit in her vault, Janet Napoles would have no worry because her staff know where to store the looted public funds: in her bedroom or on her bathtub.
This was how whistle-blower Benhur Luy candidly narrated to the Senate blue ribbon committee the millions of pesos that had allegedly passed through the hands of his former employer, Napoles, who allegedly masterminded the P10-billion “pork barrel” scam.
“Pag kailangan nya pera sa Metrobank mag-papa-reserve kami ng P75 million…Iwi-withdraw yun, at dadalhin sa office. Pag wala si Mrs. Napoles, iuuwi sa bahay,” he told the committee.
(If she needs money, we will ask Metrobank to reserve P75 million…and we will withdraw the money and bring it to the office. If Mrs. Napoles is not around, we will bring it to her home.)
Napoles’ helpers, he said, would receive the money in her residence.
“From the elevator, dala-dala po nila ang pera papunta sa master bedroom ni Madam …Kasi hindi magkasya sa vault, may mga bags. Ilagay naming sa kanyang bed tapos sometimes sa bathtub duon na lang namin pinapatong,” he said.
(From the elevator, they will bring the money to the master bedroom of Madam Napoles…Since it couldn’t possibly fit inside her vault, sometimes we place it on her bed, sometimes in her bathtub.)
After they withdrew the money from the banks to the office , Luy said they would “change car” to avoid being tailed by anyone.
Luy was presented to the committee by no less than Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on condition that he would not name the people involved in the “pork barrel” scam.
At the start of his testimony, Luy narrated the steps Napoles allegedly took to defraud the people using the legislators’ priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel funds.
He said Napoles created 20 non-government organizations and foundation, eight of these had been used as conduits for pork releases of the legislators.
Luy said Napoles herself was the one who was dealing with the lawmakers.
“Sometimes ang mga lawmakers ang tumatawag sa kanya. O magsa-submit na kami ng listing. Ano’ng gusto mong gagawin? Sasabihin ni Napoles: Sige sir tatawag muna ako ng mga agencies kung saan pupwede,” said the whistle-blower.
(Sometimes lawmakers will call her up. Or we would submit a listing. What would you like to do? Napoles would said: OK, sir, I will call first the agencies to explore the possibilities.)
Then Luy said they would look at the menu of the Department of Budget and Management to see where they could put the funds like in local government units and the Department of Agriculture.
After they identified the project title, the amount and the agency that would implement it, Luy said, they would submit the list to the lawmakers, who would present it to the appropriations committee in the House of Representatives or the Senate.
Once the project has reached and approved by the DBM, he said, the lawmakers would call Napoles to inform that the documents have been received by the department.
Luy said they would then call Napoles’ contacts in the DBM to confirm if indeed it has received the papers.
“Dahil may receiving copy na magbabayad na po si Ms, Napoles sa kausap nya (Because there is a receiving copy Napoles will pay the person involved in the transaction),” he said.
Luy said 50 percent of the PDAF allocation to Napoles’ NGOs would go to the lawmakers while the remaining 50-percent would go to Napoles.
”Kung halimbawa, usapan nila is P10 million (For example if the deal was P10 million), 50 percent is P5M. Kalakaran po kasi (Typically), 50 percent upon listing na sinabmit (that was submitted) and another 50 percent upon (the release) of the SARO (special allotment release order),” he said.
Luy said Napoles would only pay the 50 percent (P2.5 million) of the P5 million share of the legislators after the list was submitted to Congress and the remaining half (P2.5 million) once the SARO has been released.
He said Napoles used her money to pay the legislators while waiting for the actual release of the lawmakers’ PDAF.
“Magpapalawal na si Ms. Napoles kasi mayroon syang pagkukunan ng pera… (Ms. Napoles will pay them in advance because she has money),” Luy said.
But Luy later clarified that while 50 percent of PDAF would go to the legislators, only 35-percent would be left to Napoles because 10 percent would go to implementing agencies and the rest were distributed to legislators’ chiefs of staff, and officials of NGOs.
When asked by Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the committee, how senators being implicated in the scam got their shares, Luy said: “Cash. Merong (There’s) MC (manager’s check) pero di po nakapangalan sa senador (but not in the name of the senator).”
But Luy said sometimes Napoles herself or her driver would deliver the money to the senators or the senators would send their chiefs of staff to Napoles’ office to pick up the money.
There were also times, he said, that the senators’ chiefs of staff would accompany them to the banks to withdraw the money.
But asked by Guingona if he had personally saw money being given to senators, Luy said: “Wala.”
Luy did not answer when the senator asked again how many senators were involved in the scam. Instead, Justice Secretary de Lima, who was seated beside the whistle-blower, responded to the question.
“Ayaw po nyang sumagot (He does not want to answer),” said De Lima, who had informed that her witness would not name names in his testimony.
During last week’s hearing, however, at least two witnesses identified Senators Juan Ponce-Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. as among those who had allegedly funnelled their PDAF to NGOs linked to Napoles.
In the case of lawmakers at the House of Representatives, Luy said they got their money through fund transfers to their personal accounts or sometimes to the accounts of their chiefs of staff.