Napoles owns retreat house, whistle-blower swears
MANILA Philippines—A former employee of suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles on Monday testified that a retreat house run by priests in Makati City, where principal whistle-blower Benhur Luy was allegedly detained, was owned by a Napoles company.
Whistle-blower Marina Sula told a Makati court Monday that as a former liaison officer for Napoles’ properties in JLN Corp., she had transferred the title of the Bahay San Jose retreat house located at No. 52 Lapu-Lapu St. in Magallanes Village to La Roca Enterprises sometime in November 2010 on instructions of Napoles.
Sula testified that Napoles bought the Magallanes property from one Lisa Ong. Sula said she was ordered to place the property under La Roca Enterprises, which had been bought by Napoles from a Mrs. Castro.
Sula was one of three prosecution witnesses presented Monday in Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 at the resumption of the hearing on the serious illegal detention charge filed against Napoles by Luy, her cousin and former employee.
Conspiring to detain
Luy has accused Napoles and her brother, Reynald Lim, of conspiring to detain him from December 2012 to March 2013 in Napoles-owned properties, including the Bahay San Jose retreat house and the Southgarden Unit of the Pacific Plaza Tower in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, from which Luy was eventually rescued by the National Bureau of Investigation.
Napoles had denied ownership of the Magallanes retreat house.
“Madam [Napoles] said that La Roca only owned one property, so I was told to title the [Magallanes] property under La Roca,” Sula testified.
She said the Magallanes property had been “occupied by Monsignor (Josefino) Ramirez for almost three years,” until she (Sula) left JLN Corp. in August last year.
The other property under La Roca Enterprises is No. 9 Narra Rd. in Forbes Park, Makati, Sula said.
The Pacific Plaza condo unit was bought by Napoles under JLN Corp. sometime in 2009, Sula said. She confirmed that both the Magallanes property and the Pacific Plaza unit were owned by Napoles “until 2013.”
Another former JLN employee, Mary Arlene Baltazar, also took the witness stand, reiterating her testimony during the bail petition hearings.
Baltazar said that on orders of Napoles, she was ordered on Dec. 19, 2013, by a JLN Corp. co-employee to forge Luy’s signature on a bank form authorizing the transfer of P800,000 from Luy’s Metrobank account to the JLN Corp. account. Baltazar said that at the time, Luy was already under detention in the JLN Corp. offices.
Unable to do the forgery, Baltazar said the task was instead passed to another co-worker, but Baltazar said it was she who faxed the form to Metrobank the next day.
Flor Villanueva, another witness, also reiterated her testimony during the earlier bail petition hearings.
The prosecution has so far presented eight witnesses in the serious illegal detention case. Luy was scheduled to testify as the last prosecution witness Monday, but Napoles’ lawyer, Alfredo Villamor, asked for a deferment as he had a scheduled appointment with his cardiologist.
Napoles, meanwhile, who is currently confined at the Ospital ng Makati for a uterine cyst, has been cleared for a biopsy.
At a press briefing at OsMak on Monday, Florentina Villanueva, the hospital’s head obstetrician-gynecologist, said Napoles’ endocrinologist had given the go-signal for an endometrial biopsy, since Napoles’ elevated blood sugar level has been “managed.”
“We will be getting a tissue sample from her uterus,” Villanueva said, explaining the procedure.
She said the procedure could be done within 45 minutes, even within a day, once Napoles gives her consent.
The sample will then be used to determine if Napoles’ cyst is benign or cancerous, said OsMak medical director Perry Peralta.
The biopsy results, which will take around three days to be released, “will dictate what the next procedure will be,” Peralta added.
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