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Napoles, 3 senators face day of reckoning

‘Truckload’ of evidence backs pork complaint

By , Christine O. Avendaño

The Office of the Ombudsman will receive on Monday a criminal complaint for plunder and a “truckload” of evidence from the National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains behind a P10-billion pork barrel scam, and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr.

In all, at least 60 people will be named in the charge sheet for plunder and malversation of public funds in connection with the biggest swindling case to hit the republic since the pork barrel system was introduced in the then US-ruled country in 1922, the Inquirer has learned.

“Yes,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Sunday in a text message to reporters when asked if the filing of the charges in the Ombudsman would proceed on Monday as she had announced last week. “I will know the details later.”

At press time, the details had not been disclosed by De Lima, but Inquirer sources last week said that Enrile, Estrada and Revilla would be included in the plunder case for allegedly giving Napoles’ bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) access to the senators’ allotments from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel.

Up to 50-percent kickbacks

The fund, meant to ease rural poverty and the plight of typhoon victims, allegedly ended in kickbacks of up to 50 percent for the senators, according to 10 whistle-blowers, all former Napoles employees. Documents from the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) also implicated the lawmakers.

Levito Baligod, counsel of the whistle-blowers, told the Inquirer that his clients were filing their own private complaint against Napoles, lawmakers, government “conduits” and NGO officers. Baligod did not elaborate.

Assistant NBI Director Medardo de Lemos will sign the complaint sheet and De Lima the transmittal letter of the information to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.

“A truckload of documents will be submitted to the Ombudsman along with the affidavits of the witnesses, including the whistle-blowers,” Baligod said.

Among those who prepared the final complaint sheet was Assistant Justice Secretary Jose Justiniano, in collaboration with lawyers from the NBI and the whistle-blowers.

“There was a very intense deliberation among the members of the NBI-DOJ fact-finding committee to come up with the final complaint,” Baligod said.

Plunder threshold

Napoles, 49, is being held in Fort Sto. Domingo, a Philippine National Police antiterrorism training school in Sta. Rosa City in Laguna for alleged serious illegal detention of Benhur Luy, 32, a cousin and her former employee, after she allegedly learned that he was going to compete with her in securing pork barrel projects.

Luy was rescued by the NBI in March after being allegedly held captive by Napoles for three months. He later revealed the alleged channeling of pork barrel funds by Napoles to her NGOs.

The businesswoman disappeared after a warrant for her arrest was issued by the Makati Regional Trial Court on Aug. 14. She surrendered to President Aquino in Malacañang two weeks later, saying she feared for her life. Aquino then personally escorted her to PNP headquarters at Camp Crame.

COA special audit

Revilla topped the list of lawmakers who were said to have allowed the use of their PDAF to Napoles, according to Inquirer sources. The COA, in a special audit from 2007 to 2009 said that Napoles’ NGOs received from Revilla a total of P413.19 million in 22 instances during the period.

The threshold amount for plunder is P50 million.

Enrile allegedly allowed Napoles access to his PDAF on 21 occasions for a total of P332.7 million, according to the COA special audit, and Estrada 18 times for a total of P191.58 million worth of livelihood projects.

All the senators have denied wrongdoing. Revilla said the opposition was being singled out for “demolition” by the administration.

Just a ‘sample’

During a hearing called by the Senate blue ribbon committee last week, De Lima said she expected cases to be filed in “tranches” and that the cases to be lodged in the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday would simply be a “sample.”

Topping the list in the private complaint of 23 House representatives in the alleged Napoles scam is Rizalina Seachon-Lanete of Masbate’s third district, who allowed her pork to be used 13 times; followed by Conrado Estrella III of Pangasinan’s sixth district and Rodolfo Plaza of Agusan del Sur, both nine occasions; and Samuel Dangwa, of Benguet, eight.

Each senator has a PDAF allocation of P200 million annually, while congressmen each have P70 million. But during the Arroyo administration, favored senators and congressmen received more than they were supposed to get.

Under the law, the lawmakers have the sole discretion in the disposition of their pork barrel.

Records from 2004 to 2010

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,” he said.

The pieces of evidence include joint statements of nine whistle-blowers and more than 2,000 pages of financial transactions.

Originally posted: 9:43 pm | Sunday, September 15th, 2013

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Tags: Congress , Crime , Department of Justice , Graft and Corruption , House of Representatives , Janet Lim Napoles , Jinggoy Estrada , Juan Ponce Enrile , law and justice , Leila de Lima , National Bureau of Investigation , News , Office of the Ombudsman , Philippine Congress , Plunder , Pork barrel , pork barrel scam , Priority Development Assistance Fund , Ramon Revilla Jr. , Senate

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