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Witness says Napoles' 'contacts' will ensure her acquittal in 4 to 5 yrs
Publication Date : 31-08-2013
A new witness in the Philippine pork barrel scam has told investigators that Janet Lim-Napoles claims to have “contacts” in the Office of the Ombudsman and in the Sandiganbayan (Court of Appeals), and that she expects to be cleared in four to five years.
In an affidavit submitted to investigators on Thursday, the 11th whistle-blower, who is president of a bogus non-government organisation (NGO) set up by Napoles, said that hours before surrendering to President Aquino on Wednesday night, Napoles called her up to plead for loyalty from her employees.
“She was crying and asking me not to turn my back on her, that we should stay together,” the witness said.
The witness said Napoles promised to support her employees even if it costs her all her money.
“Just wait. My TRO (temporary restraining order) will be issued soon,” Napoles said in Filipino, according to the new witness.
The witness said Napoles reached her while she was in the Department of Justice (DOJ). The 11th whistle-blower is one of three new witnesses.
A source told the Inquirer that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima had already talked to the three new witnesses.
The new witness said that after talking to Napoles, her cell phone rang again and this time, it was Cheryl Jimenea, former appointments secretary of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, who was on the line.
She said Jimenea instructed her to meet with her at North Park Restaurant in Trinoma, Quezon City, at 7:30pm on August 28.
‘Blame it on Luy’
The witness said she and some other NGO presidents went to see Jimenea, who came with a lawyer who instructed them to “implicate Benhur (Luy)” in the event the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) questioned them.
Benhur Luy is the principal witness in the 10-billion pesos (US$22.4 million) pork barrel scam that Napoles allegedly masterminded, using bogus NGOs to access the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations of lawmakers.
“Madame did nothing wrong to you so maybe, you have nothing against her. So say that it was Benhur who gave you instructions and it was to him that you turned over the money,” the witness quoted the lawyer telling them in Filipino.
The witness said Jimenea gave her and the other NGO presidents, whose number she did not say, 20,000 pesos ($448) each at the end of the meeting.
The witness said that days before a Makati City court ordered Napoles arrested on August 14 for the illegal detention of Luy, the businesswoman told her employees in a meeting that she had contacts in the Office of the Ombudsman and in the Sandiganbayan, and she would eventually be exonerated.
“[It] could take four to five years to clear my name. Wait until I am cleared so I can move and will be able to help you,” the witness quoted Napoles as saying in English and Filipino.
“And she told us that she already had contacts in the Ombudsman and in the Sandiganbayan,” the witness said.
She said that Napoles’ company, JLN Corp., closed its office at Discovery Center last January.
Beginning December 19 Napoles allegedly detained Luy on allegations that he stole 300,000 pesos ($6,726) and took an unauthorised loan from a cooperative bank.
Napoles, she said, “ordered her papers and documents in the office to be moved to her residence in Pacific Plaza Tower, and the documents for all the NGOs were destroyed.”
NGO papers destroyed
Napoles also ordered the destruction of all original documents pertaining to the bogus NGOs, the witness said.
“The reason she gave us for shredding all the documents was that she should not be caught with any NGO documents that could be used as evidence against her,” the witness said in her affidavit.
At least six shredders were used to destroy the documents, the witness said.
“Due to the sheer volume of documents that we shredded, the machines eventually broke down,” she said.
Napoles, she said, “feared that the NBI might raid the office and Pacific Plaza.”
She said Napoles got adjoining rooms at Discovery Centre and gave it the code name “parking.”
“In the new office, we temporarily held office and continued to shred more documents,” the witness said.
She said Napoles also ordered them to execute affidavits stating that Luy was the brains behind the dummy NGOs.
Her statements corroborated the testimony of the other whistle-blowers, all employees of Napoles.
The new witness is one of three who recently went to the DOJ and submitted affidavits detailing what they knew about the pork barrel scam.