BONGBONG, LOREN, 3 OTHERS LINKED TO P10-B SCAM / 28 SOLONS LINKED TO SCAM, REVILLA GAVE PORK TO SYNDICATE 22 TIMES
[Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Loren Legarda]
MANILA, July 15, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Edu Punay - Senators Loren Legarda and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. have been dragged into the probe of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against a businesswoman who reportedly defrauded the government of billions of pesos by establishing ghost projects allegedly funded by pork barrel.
The names of Legarda and Marcos appeared in the affidavit of Merlina Pablo Sunas – one of the six supposed whistle-blowers in the scam that implicated Janet Lim Napoles of JLN Group of Companies – submitted to the NBI.
Sunas, Napoles’ trusted employee of 12 years whom she appointed president of the allegedly bogus non-government organization People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc. (POPDFI), claimed that a certain “Ma’am Maya” served as JLN’s “coordinator for Senators Legarda and Marcos.”
Legarda and Marcos yesterday expressed disbelief over their alleged involvement in the scam.
“I don’t know anything about it. My God,” Legarda told The STAR.
She said she was clueless about how her name cropped up in the NBI investigation and cannot think of any motive behind the story.
She also called for an impartial probe on the allegation.
“I stand by the transparent and wise utilization of my PDAF in my one town, one classroom project, rural livelihood, culture and education health services,” Legarda said, referring to the Priority Development Assistance Fund.
Marcos, on the other hand, said he never had dealings with Napoles.
“I don’t know Ms. Napoles. I have never spoken to her or even met her and so I had no personal dealings with her,” Marcos said in a text message.
Sunas did not specify whether the offices of the two senators were aware of the allegedly fraudulent transactions by JLN.
She told investigators it was a concealed deal with the coordinator by Benhur Luy, Napoles’ personal assistant who was rescued by agents last March 22, that angered the businesswoman and led to the filing of kidnapping charges.
Sunas said Napoles discovered that “the reason why the amount of PDAF given to her by a certain senator was small because Benhur had hidden transactions.”
Napoles discovered Luy’s hidden transactions during a meeting on Dec. 19, 2012 at their office in Discovery Center in Ortigas, Pasig City.
Sunas claimed that Napoles put up their foundations to receive government funds that were allegedly remitted to her many bank accounts.
For instance, she alleged that their bogus NGOs benefited from the P900-million Malampaya Fund but “no deliveries of supplies were ever made and that fake liquidation papers were submitted by the implementing agencies.” The same modus was applied in the P728-million Fertilizer Fund.
Luy, Sunas and another whistleblower further alleged that JLN forged signatures of “fictitious individuals” in organizing POPDFI and other NGOs, including Kaupdanan Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Social Foundation, Pangkabuhayan Foundation and Masaganang Ani Foundation, for this racket.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the NBI probe on the alleged scam is an offshoot of Luy’s kidnapping charges against Napoles that was already dismissed by the investigating prosecutor.
She also said records of earlier congressional inquiries into the fertilizer fund scam were already obtained by the NBI for review. But she refused to give more details.
“Given the gravity of the allegations, we’re keeping such investigation under wraps until NBI completes its evidence gathering and evaluation,” De Lima said.
Asked whether the NBI would summon lawmakers and officials mentioned in affidavits of witnesses, De Lima said it would still depend on results of the investigators’ evaluation of evidence.
De Lima added that she would also study the possible issuance of lookout bulletin order against Napoles and her brother, Reynald Lim, who was also implicated in the scam. -with Christina Mendez
FROM THE INQUIRER
28 solons linked to scam Revilla gave pork to syndicate 22 times By Nancy C. Carvajal Philippine Daily Inquirer
UNFAIR TO CROC Animal lovers say it’s unfair to compare the crocodile to greedy lawmakers who allegedly get hefty kickbacks from a syndicate that funnels their funds to ghost projects. Photo shows a zookeeper taking a morning nap beside a concrete replica of a croc at Crocodile Park in Pasay City. RICHARD A. REYES
Five senators and 23 members of the House of Representatives allegedly made available their pork barrel funds to dummy nongovernment organizations for purported ghost projects worth P10 billion over the past decade, according to affidavits submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation.
Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. topped the list of lawmakers who were said to have allowed the use of their Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to the scheme allegedly hatched by Janet Lim-Napoles, president and CEO of the trading firm JLN Corp., according to the documents secured by the Inquirer.
Revilla gave the syndicate access to his PDAF, or pork barrel, to dummy NGOs formed by Napoles and registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission in 22 instances; followed by Senators Juan Ponce Enrile on 21 occasions; Jinggoy Estrada, 18 times; Ferdinand Marcos Jr., four; and Gringo Honasan, once with a small amount.
Contrary to one newspaper report, Sen. Loren Legarda was not involved in the scam, said the principal whistle-blower, Benhur Luy, a former Napoles employee. “There was an attempt, but I heard she was dropped because she scrutinized it and she was very keen on receipts,” Luy told the Inquirer.
Topping the list of 23 House representatives is Rizalina Seachon-Lanete of Masbate’s third district, who allowed her pork to be used 13 times; followed by Conrado Estrella III of Pangasinan’s 6th district and Rodolfo Plaza of Agusan del Sur, both nine occasions; and Samuel Dangwa, of Benguet, eight.
Contacted by the Inquirer last week, Estrada said he would comment after he had read the affidavits secured by the NBI and had enough background information on the subject. Enrile and Revilla were not immediately available at the weekend but were expected to likewise respond to the issues raised against them.
Faced with a similar issue on their pork barrel funds going to spurious projects of bogus NGOs a few months back, Estrada called for an investigation into who could have unduly benefited from the scam.
All three senators earlier acknowledged that they had identified agriculture projects that were funded by their pork but denied any knowledge that an NGO that handled the funds was a bogus organization.
The three had asked the Department of Agriculture to shed light on how the concerned PDAF funds released between 2009 and 2010 were actually spent.
Reached by phone last week, former Rep. Arthur Pingoy asked where the PDAF was supposedly sourced from. He asked for details about the JLN company and said he would have it checked. He said he would then get back to the Inquirer.
‘Nothing to do with that’
Rep. Victor Ortega said: “I have nothing to do with that. I did not receive a single sack of fertilizer nor received a single peso from the fund for the fertilizer. The accuser should face me and tell me personally.” He said of Napoles: “I have never met her nor talked to her. I do not know her.”
Each senator has a PDAF budget of P200 million annually; congressmen each have a P70-million pork allocation, but during the Arroyo administration, favored senators and congressmen received more than they were supposed to get. Under the law, the lawmakers have the sole discretion in the disposition of their pork barrel.
Based on the documents obtained by the Inquirer, Enrile, at one time, downloaded P111 million of his PDAF to three dummy NGOs on the same date. Of the total amount, only P35 million allegedly went to the Napoles NGOs.
A total of P3 billion was on the whistle-blowers’ list for the years 2006-2011. Implementing agencies for this total amount were the National Livelihood Development Corp. and the Technology Resource Center.
Apart from the 20 dummy organizations, the list also showed that 30 local government units were recipients of the pork barrel. However, according to the whistle-blowers, there were LGUs that were not aware of the funds and did not receive a single centavo.
The whistle-blowers also identified banks where the accounts of the bogus NGOs were deposited.
Deposits were made in the following banks:
– Metrobank, Magdalena branch in Binondo, Manila—Bukirin Tanglaw Foundation, Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Gintong Pangkabuhayan Foundation, Kasaganahan para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Tanglaw para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Ginintuang Alay para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Micro-Agri Business Citizens Initiative Foundation, Karangyaan para sa Magsasaka Foundation and Saganang Buhay Foundation.
– Metrobank, Jose Abad Santos branch—Philippine Agri and Social Economic Development Foundation.
– LandBank, Greenhills branch—Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation and People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation.
– LandBank, Department of Education branch in Pasig City—Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development Foundation, Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation, Agrikultura para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Kasaganahan para sa Magsasaka Foundation and Dalampansang Amon Utod Foundation.
– Metrobank, Ortigas Center branch—Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation and Abundant Harvest for People Foundation.
Napoles bank accounts
Luy, the whistle-blower, said he also opened bank accounts in Napoles’ name and deposited there cash taken from the NGO accounts.
Among the bank accounts of Napoles that Luy identified were UCPB Makati head office, Metrobank on Jose Abad Santos, Ortigas and Magdalena in Binondo, Metrobank Ortigas Center for JLCN Global Properties.
The whistle-blowers said portions of the illegally acquired funds were deposited in the accounts of various persons that earned interest in connivance with the Air Materiel Wings Savings and Loan Association Inc. (SMWSLAI).
“There are existing accounts of other people with AMWSLAI where she put the money and withdraw them through the help of some officials there,” one of the whistle-blowers said. “She can deposit and withdraw money from someone else’s accounts without the knowledge of that person that his account is being used by Napoles.”
The whistle-blower also identified properties supposedly acquired by Napoles in the course of her illegal activities: houses and lots located at high-end subdivisions like Forbes Park in Makati, Ayala Alabang Village, the whole 25th floor of Discovery Center in Pasig City, units in Serendra and Pacific Plaza Towers (18-B and South Garden Unit) and AFPVOI Village (lots only).
Also identified were expensive vehicles of Napoles supposedly acquired through the money: Range Rover (PN TIN 11), white Porsche Cayenne (CYN 98), white Toyota Alphard, BMW, Tahoe, Chevrolet, two Ford E-150, Starex Gold, Toyota Prado, Savanna GMC, Lincoln Navigator, Hummer, Land Rover, Honda Civic and Mercedez Benz.—With reports from Norman Bordadora and Christian V. Esguerra
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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