IN THE KNOW: Janet Lim-Napoles and the pork barrel scam
MANILA, Philippines — Janet Lim-Napoles was accused of masterminding the pork barrel scam for at least 10 years, using a network of bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs).
In July 2013, the Inquirer broke the story on the scam to funnel P10 billion in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers to ghost projects in exchange for massive kickbacks.
The racket came to light when Napoles’ cousin, Benhur Luy, blew the lid on the scam after he was detained, allegedly by the businesswoman. Luy said Napoles had gotten wind of his plan to break away from her group.
In June 2014, the Office of the Ombudsman indicted then Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla for plunder and multiple counts of graft in connection with the pork barrel scam.
Revilla was accused of receiving P224.5 million in kickbacks; Estrada, P183.8 million; and Enrile, P172.8 million. Napoles was named a coaccused.
In April 2015, Napoles and her brother, Reynald “Jojo” Lim, were convicted in the illegal detention case filed by Luy, but in May 2017, the Court of Appeals, with backing from Solicitor General Jose Calida, overturned the conviction.
On Dec. 7, 2018, the Sandiganbayan acquitted Revilla of plunder but convicted his legislative officer, Richard Cambe, and Napoles, saying the two had pocketed P124.5 million from his pork barrel funds.
The decision was the first ever handed down by the antigraft court in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
In a 3-2 vote, the Special First Division on Dec. 7, 2018, ruled against prosecutors who accused Revilla of getting P224.5 million in kickbacks but said prosecutors were able to establish that Cambe received P124.5 million from Napoles, citing records from the financial ledgers kept by star witness Luy.
The court sentenced Napoles and Cambe to “reclusion perpetua,” or imprisonment of up to 40 years, and perpetually disqualified them from holding public office. It ordered Napoles held at the Correctional Institution for Women and Cambe at New Bilibid Prison.
On Dec. 19, 2018, the court denied Napoles’ plea to be allowed to remain at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.
On Dec. 28, 2018, Napoles filed a motion for reconsideration in the Sandiganbayan. Unlike Napoles, Cambe opted not to seek the Sandiganbayan’s reconsideration anymore and would instead challenge the verdict directly in the Supreme Court. —Inquirer Research
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