Luy: Napoles got P3B in scam
MANILA, Philippines–Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam, skimmed off some P3 billion in taxpayers’ money through the transactions of her dummy foundations with several erring legislators, primary whistleblower Benhur Luy said in his testimony Wednesday in the Sandiganbayan.
Taking the witness stand for nearly six hours, Luy revealed more details of the elaborate scheme which Napoles allegedly concocted to divert, with the lawmaker’s consent, the pork barrel, or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), allotments of Sen. Bong Revilla.
Luy said Napoles also pilfered state coffers through projects financed by the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), supposedly an economic stimulus program that was the brainchild of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, but which the Supreme Court has ruled to be unconstitutional.
Luy was testifying at the bail hearings for Revilla, the latter’s aide Richard Cambe and Napoles in connection with the plunder charges against them.
In a brief interview after his testimony, Luy said the cash bonanza that went to Napoles could have amounted to more.
“She definitely earned more than P3 billion. She used it to buy a number of real estate properties and vehicles,” he said.
In the cross-examination by Revilla’s lawyer, Joel Bodegon, Luy said Napoles got 30 to 40 percent of the total cost of the projects of her bogus nongovernment organizations that were funded by the pork of a number of legislators.
Citing the special audit of the Commission on Audit on the lawmakers’ PDAF, Bodegon asked Luy if some P10 billion in public funds had indeed been lost to the spurious projects of the Napoles-linked NGOs.
When Luy replied in the affirmative, the defense lawyer asked him how much Napoles could have earned from the transactions.
“If the total amount was P10 billion, then P3 billion went to Madam,” Luy replied, referring to Napoles.
“But the legislators earned more because they received 40 to 50 percent of the (total project cost),” he added.
Asked by Bodegon if he considered the money that Napoles made came from “easy work,” Luy said: “It depends, sir.”
“First of all, there’s the involvement of lawmakers. We also had to use our left and right hands in signing so many documents,” he said, drawing laughter from the people in the courtroom.
In his testimony, Luy said he started working for Napoles, his cousin, as an “alalay” (personal assistant) in 2002, receiving a monthly salary of P8,000.
In previous testimony, Luy said he first worked for Napoles only on a part-time basis as he was then employed as a medical technician at the Chinese General Hospital.
Two years later, he said his cousin appointed him finance officer of JLN Corp., the Napoles-owned company that primarily took charge of all transactions of the fake foundations.
Quizzed further by Bodegon, Luy said it was only in 2007 that he discovered the “illegal business practices” of Napoles and the NGOs that she used as her front.
“In 2007, we started forging the signatures (on the documents) upon the instructions of Madam,” he said.
Besides funneling the pork barrel allotments of lawmakers, he said Napoles also earned from the fertilizer fund scam and other ghost projects in the Department of Transportation and Communications and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
“She also had projects (financed) by the Malampaya Fund implemented through the DAR,” he said.
“Did you not report the matter to the NBI?” Bodegon asked.
“I did not report it, sir. I was very afraid then, sir,” Luy replied.
Asked if Napoles had threatened to kill him if he reported her allegedly illegal activities, Luy said: “No, sir. But I was afraid of Madam’s connections.”
To which Bodegon retorted: “You were afraid because your Madam Napoles discovered that you were engaged in the same business practices as hers. Isn’t is that she had accused you of engaging in the same business as hers?”
Luy admitted that Napoles indeed confronted and “detained” him on the night of Dec. 19, 2012, after she “suspected me of doing my own (business) activities.”
Bodegon and Cambe’s lawyer, Michael Ancheta, tried to destroy Luy’s credibility as a prosecution witness by bringing to the attention of the Sandiganbayan First Division the qualified theft case that Napoles had filed against Luy in the Pasig City prosecutor’s office and the forfeiture case brought against him by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) in the Manila regional trial court.
Bodegon claimed that Cambe and Revilla “did not get even a single centavo” from the alleged diversion of Revilla’s PDAF.
Ancheta, meanwhile, told the court that it was Luy and his fellow whistle-blowers who got a windfall from the scam “because they were the ones who forged the signatures and withdrew and delivered” the kickbacks of the lawmakers.
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