PALACE: NO GUILT BY PHOTOGRAPHY / SENATORS GOT 50% FROM NAPOLES' NGOs
 


Janet Lim-Napoles’ daughter Jeane poses with President Aquino during an event in Cebu last year. This photo was posted on her Instagram account but has since been deleted.

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 16, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Aurea Calica -  here is no guilt by photography, Malacańang said yesterday as photos of President Aquino and other officials including Senate President Franklin Drilon surfaced, showing them together with members of the Napoles family.

The Palace said the President does not personally know businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles’ daughter Jeane even if they are shown posing for a photo.

“I understand the photo was taken at an event last November in Cebu. She had her photo taken with the President, as did other people who lined up to have their photo taken with him.”

On Nov. 30, Aquino attended the national thanksgiving mass for San Pedro Calungsod in Cebu.

The Napoleses had attended a function with Aquino as guest before the Mass, Secretary Ricky Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office said.

Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda believes an attempt is being made to make Senate President Franklin Drilon look guilty through photography.

Photographs of lawmakers with Napoles have been circulating, the latest of which showed Drilon with her, among other people, in a party held in a memorial park.

Speaking to reporters, Lacierda said strong evidence would merit the filing of charges against those allegedly involved in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) irregularity.

“It’s not so much the pictures that should be the basis for judgment,” he said. “Let me emphasize that the basis for evaluation of wrongdoing should be acts undertaken, acts that involved taxpayers’ money.

“And so, other people who are trying to politicize the event... well, it’s up to you to decide. You draw your own conclusions. As far as they are concerned, we’ve said time and again the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) investigation is colorblind regardless of what party you belong to. It will be investigated, and if there’s any evidence of wrongdoing, that will come out.”

Lacierda said Drilon had explained it was his wife, Mila, who knew the Napoleses.

“Mrs. Drilon is a very active lay Catholic person... She’s a very religious person,” he said.

“She knows priests. I think she has sent a number of priests training for mission work. That’s the context.

“Number two, the reason there’s a difference between the pictures of Senator Drilon and the other senators is that there is also a special audit report which tagged these other senators with the picture being involved in the diversion of taxpayers’ money to the Napoles-NGOs (non-government organizations).

“So there was this report. So that thing, coupled with a picture, people would tend to put two and two together. Insofar as Senator Drilon is concerned, there has been no audit report or there has been no allegation of diversion to any Napoles-NGO. That’s the difference.”

Lacierda said the most important thing was the investigation into the pork barrel scam.

“The fact that you have a picture taken with somebody notorious, coupled with no other links other than the picture, is not proof of any wrongdoing,” he said. “What is damning to others were the allegations of an audit.”

Lacierda said it would be best to wait for the NBI findings rather than engage in speculations.

The COA reports did not include Drilon as among those who dealt with Napoles and her non-government organizations, he added.

Lacierda said this defense was not specific to Drilon, as members of the opposition also had photographs with Napoles.

Lacierda said Drilon had volunteered the information about the photographs to President Aquino.

The issue should not affect the integrity or work of Drilon as Senate President, he added.

Lacierda said Drilon had denied any transactions with Napoles.

Lacierda said the NBI has summoned everyone implicated in the pork barrel scam, including those from the administration. Among those summoned were Budget and Management Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and several others from the department since this agency was in charge of releasing funds to the NGOs, he added.

Lacierda said he was “handicapped” to answer whether administration allies would be charged along with Napoles and other officials because he was not privy to the investigation.

“NBI conducted this investigation and they will be in a better position to identify who are the people who have committed wrongdoing.”

Aquino was still awaiting a briefing from Justice Secretary Leila de Lima regarding the case, Lacierda said.

Preemption

At the Department of Justice, De Lima took exception yesterday to a newspaper banner headline naming Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. as respondents in the plunder case being prepared against Napoles.

“That (report) is preempting the filing of the charges, which is also adding pressure to the NBI team,” she said.

She refused to confirm the report, and said she doesn’t know the source of the story.

De Lima said Levito Baligod, counsel of whistle-blower Benhur Luy, denied naming names in his interviews with media.

“While he confirmed that the filing of the case was upcoming and that at least five will be charged, he said he never named names so he was surprised too why those names came out,” she said.

De Lima said the documentary evidence needed in the plunder charges against Napoles and some lawmakers and executive department officers was still being collated as of yesterday afternoon.

At Fort Sto. Domingo, police continue to monitor the health of Napoles.

Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, Philippine National Police public information chief, said as of Tuesday night, Napoles’ vital signs remain normal.

Her visitors included Fr. Jay Phillip Hernandez Ramos from Antipolo, lawyers Maria Carmen Humangit, Takahiro Kenjie Aman, and Marko Sarmiento of the Kapunan law office, he added.

Napoles’ husband Jaime and son Christopher also visited her.

Syndicate

In Laoag City, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said yesterday a big syndicate is responsible for the large-scale misappropriation of the PDAF allocations of members of Congress. He did not identify the syndicate.

Speaking at the 96th birthday celebration of his father, former President Ferdinand Marcos, he denied having assigned part of his PDAF allocations to the bogus NGOs of Napoles. “I have not given any of her bogus NGOs money from my PDAF allocation,” he said.

Marcos said his signature and that of his chief of staff appearing in documents in COA’s possession were falsified.

Handwriting experts can find out if his signature and that of his chief of staff are genuine or not, he added. –With Edu Punay, Aie Balagtas See, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Teddy Molina

Luy: Senators got 50% of 'pork' given to Napoles NGOs By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated September 12, 2013 - 2:53pm 9 1080 googleplus0 1


Pork barrel scam witness Benhur Luy appears at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing, Thursday, September 12, 2013.

MANILA, Philippines - Some senators pocketed 50-percent of the pork barrel that went to ghost projects and bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) set up by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, key whistle-blower Benhur Luy revealed Thursday.

Appearing at the third hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the P10-billion pork barrel scam, Luy said some legislators will get half of their share before and after the issuance of the special allotment release order (SARO) by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Luy said Napoles and the legislator will first discuss details of their deal and make a verbal agreement on which implementing agency will receive the pork barrel.

"Pag napagkasunduan na nila kung saan ilalagak yung pondo, itong lawmakers na ito susulat sa DBM. Naka-attach na po dun yung kanilang identified implementing agency, identified project description, amount kung ano yung napagusapan nila," he said.

Employees of the JLN (Janet Lim-Napoles) Corporation will prepare the project proposal that will be forwarded to the DBM by the legislator, who will also endorse the project to the implementing agency.

When the lawmaker asks for his share in the pork barrel, Napoles will draw from her own pocket.

"Si Ms. Napoles kasi liquid siya. Meron siyang ibang pera na pagkukuhanan," Luy said.

Napoles will only release the other half of the lawmaker's share the JLN corporation is already given a copy of the SARO.

Luy said 40 percent of the released pork barrel went to Napoles and the remaining 10 percent went to officials of the implementing agencies.

Napoles herself or her driver brought bags of cash to the senators, he said. Sometimes, lawmakers themselves or their chiefs of staff also went to Napoles' office to get the money.

Luy added that some members of the senators' staff would also accompany them to the bank to withdraw their share from the pork barrel.

"Cash po. Meron ho MC (manager's check) pero hindi nakapangalan sa senador. In the Lower House, it was fund transfers. They gave account numbers and we credited the money to their account," he said.

Luy said he never personally saw legislators receive the cash or checks, but claimed that he was sometimes asked to prepare the cash -- as much as P20 million -- in their office.

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, who was also present at the hearing, asked that Luy be allowed not to name the lawmakers involved as of the moment.

“Maybe it is after all in the public interest to hear a representative voice from the whistleblowers and hear from him firsthand what has been coursed by media,” De Lima said.

“But in the testimony of the whistleblower, may I make one request -- kung pwede lang po, wala muna tayong mga papangalanan na pangalan,” she said.

Luy, the second cousin of Napoles who headed one of the bogus NGOs, said the businesswoman had established some 20 bogus organizations and foundations, but only eight were used to access lawmakers' pork barrel.

He said Napoles shut down three NGOs after they were discovered to be involved in the fertilizer fund scam of 2003 to 2004.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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