‘Pork’ scam whistle-blower: Legarda, Marcos, Sotto dealt with Napoles
MANILA, Philippines—Whistle-blower Merlina Suñas on Friday came up with more names of senators and representatives who transacted with accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles in the pork barrel scam.
During Napoles’ bail hearing, Suñas said the following senators transacted their Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) with JLN Corp.: Senators Loren Legarda, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vicente “Tito” Sotto III.
Suñas was at first uncomfortable in giving out the names of senators and other representatives in the scam. But Associate Justice Alex Quiroz coaxed her to become honest and help the court seek the truth.
“You are a state witness, and therefore you were once part of the crime. How come you just limited your affidavit to three senators? Don’t limit your knowledge. You have to be honest,” Quiroz said. (Suñas and other whistle-blowers have tagged in their affidavits Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile in the scam).
Suñas eventually gave way and named Legarda, Marcos and Sotto as among the lawmakers on the top of her mind involved in the scam.
Suñas said Legarda and Marcos transacted with a certain Maya Santos as their agent to Napoles.
Santos is said to be the associate of principal whistle-blower Benhur Luy. Napoles and Luy supposedly had a falling out when Napoles found out Luy was starting his own scam with Santos.
Suñas seemed to confirm the affidavit of Napoles who tagged Santos as an agent of various lawmakers, including Legarda and Marcos.
Suñas said Santos went to the JLN Corp. office to give to Napoles the special allotment release orders (Saro) of the PDAF of Senators Legarda and Marcos.
“Siya (Maya Santos) lagi ang pumupunta sa opisina ay dala-dala ang mga dokumento at Saro nina Legarda at Marcos at dinadala niya ito kay Napoles (She would always come to the office bringing various documents and Saros of Legarda and Marcos to Napoles),” Suñas said.
Suñas said the senators transacted with Maya Santos outside the period of 2007 to 2009, the period of which were the time frame of the present pork barrel scam charges.
Suñas later spilled more names: Brothers Maximo and Rufus Rodriguez, the former being the incumbent Abante Mindanao representative and the latter incumbent Cagayan de Oro solon who heads the House ad hoc Bangsamoro committee hearing the Bangsamoro basic bill (BBL).
Rufus and Marcos head congressional committees hearing the BBL.
Suñas also said there are two Biazons—an older one and a younger one—involved in the scam. Former Muntinlupa representative and resigned Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon faces a malversation complaint before the Ombudsman over the scam. Biazon’s father is former senator, Armed Forces chief and now Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon.
Suñas also mentioned the following lawmakers already facing charges before the Sandiganbayan: former representatives Rizalina Seachon-Lanete, Edgar Valdez, Samuel Dangwa, Constantino Jaraula, and Rodolfo Plaza. Lanete and Valdez are detained for plunder, while Dangwa, Jaraula and Plaza face malversation raps.
The other representatives named by Suñas are two Ortegas, two Estrellas, a certain Congressman Umali, Cagas, Olano, and Fuentebella.
In her affidavit, Napoles named the following lawmakers tagged in the scam: Representatives Manuel and Victor Ortega; Conrad Estrella III and Reymund Estrella; Alfonso, Aurelio and Reynaldo Umali; Marc Douglas Cagas; Arrel Olano, and Arnulfo Fuentebella.
No Liberal Party members
Quiroz, however, noticed Suñas seemed to have spared members of President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party.
“What you enumerated seems to be not members of the Liberal Party … You mean to say, all the Liberal Party members are saints while the nonmembers are the sinners?” Quiroz said.
Suñas said she could not recall names of Aquino’s allies involved in the scam.
Ruffy Biazon is the lone member of the LP tagged in the scam.
Quiroz told Suñas she better tell the truth especially because of her tendency to have a selective memory.
Asked for a reaction, Napoles said after the hearing: “Nagulat ako. Nakikita niyo naman na nadudulas siya. Lalabas din ang katotohanan (I was surprised. You see she had a slip. The truth will come out).”
Asked why Napoles, who had been animated in the hearing since Suñas testified, seems to be in a light mood these days, she said: “Sa dami ba naman ng mga kaso mo, hindi ka pa ba magiging masaya? (What with the number of cases, why wouldn’t you be?)”
Napoles is the coaccused in all pork barrel scam cases in the Sandiganbayan for multiple charges of plunder, graft, and malversation.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.