Napoles admits meeting ex-Sandigan justice Ong but not over ‘pork’
MANILA, Philippines — Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles on Friday admitted meeting dismissed Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong, but not over his alleged kickbacks from the lawmakers’ pork barrel.
Napoles said Ong approached her at one time to ask for access to Monsignor Josefino Ramirez, former Quiapo Church rector, so that he could touch the clothes of the Black Nazarene.
“Humingi ng tulong si Ong kay Monsignor Ramirez tungkol sa damit ng Nazareno,” Napoles, who was at the Sandiganbayan on Friday for her bail hearing from plunder, told reporters in an ambush interview.
Ong was dismissed by the Supreme Court for his close links to Napoles. Ong had been accused of attending the parties or social events hosted by the businesswoman.
Ong was also accused of being Napoles’ alleged contact at the Sandiganbayan as he acquitted Napoles over the Kevlar helmet case.
The Supreme Court dismissed Ong after he was found guilty of “gross misconduct, dishonesty and impropriety”.
Voting 8-5-2 or eight in favor of Ong’s dismissal, five against and two abstentions, the high court in a per curiam (by the court) decision said: The “totality of the circumstances of such association strongly indicates (Ong’s) corrupt inclinations that only heightened the public’s perception of anomaly in the decision making process.”
But Napoles denied knowing Ong during the case, adding that she only met Ong in 2012 after she was acquitted in the Kevlar case.
“2012 lumapit si Ong kpara sa damit ng Nazareno,” Napoles said.
For his part, Napoles’ lawyer Stephen David said Ong wanted to touch the Nazarene to cure his sickness on the prostate.
David even quoted Napoles as saying she was irked that Ong would seek her help when he was such a snob during her trial.
“Inis si Janet kay Ong, Sinabi sa kanya ni Napoles, siya ang may kailangan kaya dapat siya ang pumunta dito at makiusap. Pumunta siya (Ong) dun (JLN office) at nakiusap,” David said.
Pork scam whistleblowers in their sworn affidavits said that Ong visited Napoles in her office. They also pointed at Ong as Napoles’ contact in the Sandiganbayan.
“Desperate siya at that time because of the sakit niya sa prostate pero it has nothing to do with the case. Yung kaso na yan ng Kevlar, 2010 pa natapos,” David said.
David said Napoles knew Monsignor Ramirez because he was Napoles’ private chaplain in JLN Corp.
“Wala naman siya (Ong) kilalang may access kay Monsignor kaya siguro (pinuntahan si Napoles),” David said.
Based on Benhur Luy’s digital files on payments made by Napoles, Monsignor Ramirez was listed as among those who received money.
One entry showed a check for Ramirez coming from a Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) project of Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. worth P50 million that was coursed through two bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) controlled by Napoles.
Another entry, for Oct. 16, 2008, showed that P434,451 was used to buy tickets for Ramirez’s travel to Europe. The amount came from the bank accounts of Napoles’ NGOs.
Other entries showed Ramirez as receiving donations amounting to P800,000 from Napoles on several occasions. The Luy records showed that Napoles also spent P310,550 for a birthday party for Ramirez and another P9,000 for “guard of Monsi for Jolibee.” “Monsi” is Ramirez’s nickname in the Napoles’ circle.
Ramirez admitted receiving money from Napoles but claimed to have received these in good faith without knowing about the source of the funds.
The former Quiapo rector also said he received the donations of the Magdalena Luy Lim Foundation, which Napoles established in memory of her mother, and from other donors “with the sole intention of using the same for the projects of the Divine Mercy.”
Napoles’ late mother was an ardent devotee of the Divine Mercy.
Napoles is detained at the Camp Bagong Diwa female ward as she faces plunder and graft charges for allegedly masterminding the purported scheme of spending lawmakers’ pork barrel funds to ghost projects for kickbacks.
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