Luy: JLN employees posed as farmers
Video by Noy Morcoso/INQUIRER.net
MANILA, Philippines–Whistle-blower Benhur Luy testified in court on Wednesday that alleged pork barrel scam’s mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles ordered her employees to be photographed as farmers receiving livelihood kits and packages from dummy foundations that she used to embezzle P10 billion from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) that funded development projects in congressional districts.
“Even the pictures in the (disbursement reports) were fake. The drivers and errand boys were told by Napoles to pose as farmers receiving seeds, chemical sprays and other items,” Luy said when asked by Napoles’ lawyer Stephen David about the documents used in their operations.
The state witness, who consistently referred to Napoles as “Madam,” said the fake photo sessions were actually done in Pandi, Bulacan, where Napoles maintained a warehouse, and in one of her properties in AFPOVAI (Armed Forces of the Philippines Officers Village Association Inc.) Subdivision in Taguig City.
Pictures used for inspection
“The pictures were used when there was an inspection [for] actual implementation of the projects. We just made up the distribution of the items,” Luy said, testifying for the third time in Sen. Bong Revilla’s bail hearing at the Sandiganbayan.
Revilla, who was identified by his code name “Pogi” (good-looking) in Luy’s records, is accused of plunder for pocketing P224.5 million of his pork barrel funds funneled to the Napoles-linked foundations from 2006 to 2010.
Revilla received nearly P100 million in kickbacks from Napoles from 2008 to 2009, about a year before he topped the 2010 senatorial election, Luy said.
Under questioning by David during the cross-examination, Luy said Revilla got half of the total cost of projects funded from his PDAF allocation.
While the usual practice was to give the kickbacks of legislators in two tranches, Luy said Napoles agreed to give advances to Revilla through his then political aide and alleged bagman, lawyer Richard Cambe.
‘Sen. Revilla is kind’
“Senator Revilla is kind. He never hounded Madam about his rebates,” Luy said, drawing laughter from the people in the courtroom, including the senator’s lawyers.
David tried to impeach Luy’s credibility, pointing out his failure to provide some details of the financial transactions he handled for Napoles.
David asked Luy about the dates on which he personally handed big amounts in cash to Cambe.
He noted Luy’s failure to identify the person who gave him P9 million in cash, which Luy, in turn, allegedly handed to Cambe in October 2009.
David also pointed out that Luy was unsure whether Napoles was present during the payoff delivery to Cambe or when the auditors inspected Napoles’ warehouse in Bulacan.
Luy said Napoles kept the same rotting seeds, broken sprayers and stocks of fertilizer in the warehouse to prove that she was making deliveries for the multiple livelihood projects of her fake foundations.
“Your answers are all so general. Do you have withdrawal slips of the supposed [bank transactions you had?” David asked Luy.
Luy said the documents were with the branches of the banks where the money was withdrawn.
David repeatedly asked Luy to cite the specific dates on which he met Cambe to give him Revilla’s kickbacks.
Luy said he could not recall the exact dates because the meetings happened “several years ago.”
“It’s now 2014. I cannot remember all the transactions we had in 2006 or 2007. But most of the time it was me who personally gave Richard Cambe the rebates of Senator Revilla,” Luy said.
He said there were times that Cambe met with Napoles to collect Revilla’s share of the proceeds from the bogus projects outside Napoles’ office in Discovery Suites at Ortigas Center in Pasig City.
“Madam would just call me and order me to record how much she gave to Cambe,” he said.
When David tried to pressure the witness to provide specific dates and details of his meetings with Cambe, Luy answered in a raised voice: “I told you already, sir, that I cannot recall all the specific details because the transactions were done several years ago.”
Raising his eyebrows, he told the lawyer: “My proofs are the financial ledgers that I myself prepared.”
He said he personally prepared the ledger for the “rebates” for Revilla and Cambe, but he was assisted in the preparation by Napoles or one of her children and by her nephew, Ronald John Lim, and driver, John Raymond de Asis.
Luy then narrated that he once gave money to Cambe, putting it in the trunk of the lawyer’s sport utility vehicle that was parked at a shopping mall in Ortigas.
“So now you can remember the parking lot, but not the person who gave you the money,” David said.
Associate Justice Efren de la Cruz, chair of the Sandiganbayan First Division, told David to just ask questions and stop making remarks in open court when Prosecutor Joefferson Toribio objected to the defense lawyer’s questioning of the state witness.
David argued that Luy’s files were “hearsay evidence,” as these were personal records of the transactions that he made as an employee at Napoles’ JLN Corp. and that these should be substantiated with formal documents.
The lawyer tried to show the court that Luy could not produce any record that Napoles received or gave money to him, but Luy was consistent in stressing that all his transactions were dictated by Napoles.
Luy’s testimony was practically turned into a lecture in mathematics when David asked the witness to compute the commissions and prove that Revilla indeed received 50 percent of the projects financed by his PDAF allocation
This prompted De la Cruz to order one of the court staff to get a calculator to help Luy in adding the large amounts that were given to the senator.
Between June 2008 and July 2008, Luy said, Revilla endorsed two projects worth P65 million and P15 million to Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc., where Luy was the president.
He said the projects were implemented through the National Agribusiness Corp., one of the state agencies that acted as conduits for the financing of Napoles’ ghost projects.
Citing portions of his financial ledgers contained in nine folders, Luy said Revilla received rebates of P40 million in four tranches.
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