Drilon, Marcos, 4 other senators not on Napoles list
MANILA, Philippines—Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Lito Lapid, Cynthia Villar and Ralph Recto are not on the Napoles list submitted by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday to the chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee.
But Drilon, Marcos, Santiago, Lapid, Villar and Recto are in the accounting records of whistle-blower Benhur Luy as having had dealings with Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the P10-billion scam involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
This week, the Inquirer began running a series of articles culled from a copy of Luy’s hard disk drive (HDD) given by his parents in the presence of his former lawyer, Levito Baligod, on April 27, 2013.
Baligod said that a month after giving the HDD to the Inquirer, Luy signed printouts running over 2,000 pages from the HDD during his questioning at the National Bureau of Investigation. A copy of the digital files and the accompanying printouts were subsequently submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman.
The Inquirer series on Wednesday said that 25 senators, including 15 incumbents, appeared in the Luy files from 2002 to 2012, during which Napoles allegedly channeled allocations from the PDAF to ghost projects and kickbacks.
Senate subpoenas Luy’s hard disk drive
The Senate blue ribbon committee has issued a subpoena to Luy, directing him to submit by next Wednesday his controversial digital files purportedly detailing alleged questionable pork barrel transactions between lawmakers and Napoles.
Also on Thursday, De Lima went to Sen. Teofisto Guingona III’s office to ask for a week’s extension—until May 22—for the submission of the affidavit that she got from Napoles on April 22. She said Napoles’ lawyers were working on an “extended sworn statement.”
“We can all agree perhaps that this is better than a mere list that stands by itself, without even a narrative that would inform those named therein of what acts are actually imputed against them,” she said.
At a glance
At a glance, all the 11 senators on Napoles’ signed list given to De Lima are included in Luy’s digital files on senators who dealt with the alleged pork barrel queen, except for Escudero. Escudero is not included in the files of Luy, Napoles’ then finance officer who was instructed by the businesswoman to keep a file of her transactions.
Luy’s records also include former Senators Edgardo Angara, Tessie Aquino-Oreta, Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., Rodolfo Biazon, Robert Jaworski, Loi Estrada, Ramon Magsaysay Jr. and Ramon Revilla Sr.
Drilon and other senators who are mentioned described as preposterous the files maintained through the years upon orders by Napoles to Luy, then her finance officer. Napoles kept Luy hostage for three months after he had threatened to reveal her activities to authorities for which she was charged with serious illegal detention.
The senators named in the files have demanded a confrontation with Luy and a resumption of the committee’s hearing on the scam. A report on its 10 hearings has been circulated for signing by the committee members. It recommends the prosecution of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla for plunder.
At a news forum on Thursday, Drilon warned the public against “operators” out to muddle the investigations of the alleged misuse of P10 billion in PDAF allocations over the past decade.
Even as more senators got dragged into the controversy, Drilon said the 24-member chamber remained focused on crafting key legislation before adjourning in June and was far from collapsing.
And in a bid to move away from the controversy, Drilon urged the public to monitor congressional discussions on the 2015 budget and guard against the revival of the pork barrel. “I urge the media and the public: Guard your Senate and make sure that the PDAF is not revived in the 2015 budget,” he said.
He said the Senate wasn’t distracted from passing priority legislation before adjourning sine die on June 13. He said that for instance, the Senate was on track in passing on final reading 16 measures, including those strengthening the Sandiganbayan and extending the corporate life of the Philippine National Railways.
Drilon’s photograph with Napoles at a party went viral on social media after the scandal broke in July last year. His name appears in Luy’s files. He denies any wrongdoing.
Drilon stressed that the PDAF scam was a legal, not a political, issue that the country’s judicial system could properly address.
He said the public should be “discerning” when parsing Napoles’ lists of senators involved in the racket. He was referring to the different lists containing different names and numbers of senators purportedly involved in the racket.
“Let us be wary of efforts to muddle the issue. Let us be wary of political operators who are trying to earn a living for 2016, who could be muddling the issue,” Drilon said.
Drilon said the Catholic bishops’ call on scam-tainted lawmakers to go on leave was better addressed to the “conscience of the public servants.”
Vice President Jejomar Binay on Thursday told reporters that all those involved in the scam should be investigated and those found guilty must be punished.
No one should be spared
“I’ll be emphatic in saying whoever they are—allies, relatives, political opponents— should be charged in court if warranted,” he said.
On Thursday, Pimentel decried his inclusion in Luy’s financial records as among the senators that transacted with Napoles.
Pimentel said a certain Mon Arcenas had no power, authority or permission to receive any kickback in relation to his PDAF from his office.
“The allegation of Benhur Luy that my office or I personally received dirty money as kickback from the disbursement of PDA Funds allotted to my office in 2013 or any other time is utterly malicious, completely false and thoroughly defamatory of my reputation,” he said in a statement.—With reports from Christine O. Avendaño and Ben O. de Vera
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