Complete records of Benhur Luy bared
First of a series
MANILA, Philippines—When they came to the Inquirer on April 27, 2013, the parents of Benhur Luy—Gertrudes and Arturo—gave us a hard drive containing the complete files of their son while in the employ of their cousin Janet Lim-Napoles as her finance officer.
The Luys, together with Benhur’s siblings Arthur and Annabel, came to the Inquirer to ask for help for their son to expose the plunder of people’s money by Napoles and her highly placed clients in the government.
The Inquirer copied the contents of the hard drive that had 20,103 files held in 2,156 folders during the period 2002 to 2012.
Napoles knew that Benhur kept complete records of her transactions upon her strict instructions.
Surrendering the laptop containing the business transactions of JLN Corp., where Benhur was finance officer, was the condition set by Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim for his family to be allowed to see Benhur after they allegedly illegally detained him on Dec. 19, 2012.
On March 22, agents of the National Bureau of Investigation’s Special Task Force rescued Benhur from the Napoles condominium unit in Pacific Plaza Towers in Taguig City.
What Napoles did not know then was that Benhur had made a backup file on the hard drive where amounts of kickbacks given to lawmakers and other government officials were recorded in detail.
Benhur’s parents were accompanied to the Inquirer by another JLN employee, Merlina Suñas, who also turned whistle-blower, his longtime friend Flor Villanueva and Benhur’s former lawyer Levito Baligod.
The Inquirer discovered that close to 200 people, including lawmakers, department heads, a former Supreme Court justice, popular media personalities, heads of government-owned and -controlled corporations, government employees of various agencies, local government officials, lawyers, military officials, show-biz personalities, employees of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and private individuals received money from Napoles based on the records of Benhur.
Benhur’s records showed that transactions of lawmakers were of two categories. One, there were legislators who repeatedly funneled huge funds to Napoles organizations and personally received kickbacks from her. Two, there were legislators who allocated a minimal amount of their pork barrel funds through agents and representatives.
Kickbacks were handed out using various methods—through bank fund transfers, checks, cash delivered to their houses or picked up at the JLN office in Discovery Center in Ortigas, Pasig City, the Benhur records also showed.
Other places indicated as venues for deliveries of kickbacks were hotels, restaurants and coffee shops.
Some legislators received kickbacks in foreign currency, the files showed.
The Inquirer found in the computer files records of financial transactions, bank documents, bank transfers, cash and check disbursements, letters of endorsements, memorandums of agreement, acceptance letters, list of properties, money transfers, auditor’s reports, private letters, insurance policies, prayers, photographs, project proposals, check disbursements, bank placements, bank deposits, drafts of various communications, special allocation release order numbers, guests lists and payrolls of JLN employees, including Benhur’s.
The hard drive contained JLN Corp. bank account numbers and balances. The records also showed that Napoles controlled 21 foundations—not 20 as earlier reported—and a publishing company, Golden Publishing Corp.
The records further showed that Napoles knew some of the personalities of other equally questionable organizations, which were also beneficiaries of hundreds of millions of pesos from some legislators.
Benhur’s records were among the evidence submitted by the National Bureau of Investigation to the Office of the Ombudsman as part of the evidence in plunder cases filed against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Estrada and 74 others.
Other sources of scams
Benhur’s records showed that apart from the estimated P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations and the Malampaya Fund, other public funds were also sources of kickbacks for the lawmakers through Napoles.
The other sources were budget insertions, allocations for hard projects like farm-to-market roads, appropriation funds for calamity, nationwide equipment enhancement programs and department savings.
Budget for members of the Commission on Appointments and media blitz of some government organizations were also financed by Napoles.
It also contained records of Napoles’ properties and houses, payments of club shares, bank accounts, security and treasury bonds, and the JLN Corp. minimal payments made to the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
The records also have detailed information on how much and when and how Napoles sent millions of dollars to the United States to purchase properties and finance the lifestyle of her daughter abroad.
The hard drive also contained names of guest lists for Napoles parties like the JLN office anniversary, wedding anniversary and other family celebrations.
It also contained songs for Mass and photos of Benhur with friends.
Apart from the hard drive, Benhur also provided additional documents to the Inquirer to support the information retrieved from the hard drive.
Benhur, speaking through his lawyer Raji Mendoza, explained that those who transacted with Napoles involved “rebates or commission.”
Benhur, through Mendoza, was informed of the Inquirer’s decision to release the content of the hard drive.
“We hope that the release of the records of my client will be the catalyst that will challenge public officials to be more circumspect in the use of public funds,” Mendoza said.
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