Napoles to tell all on Malampaya scam

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 05 2014 08:29 AM | Updated as of May 05 2014 04:29 PM

MANILA - Janet Lim-Napoles will also have a tell-all account of the P900-million Malampaya fund scam, her lawyer confirmed yesterday.

Bruce Rivera said Napoles’ offer of testimony covers not only the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam but also the misuse of the Malampaya fund during the previous administration.

“It is a tell-all that Mrs. Napoles offered, so let us take it at face value,” he told The STAR.

Rivera, however, said their camp has not yet discussed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) how the affidavit of his client on this other fund anomaly would be taken.

“We haven’t reached that point yet – whether she will come up with a separate affidavit for the Malampaya scam. For now, what has been submitted to the DOJ is for the PDAF scam,” Rivera said.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also confirmed that Napoles gave vital information about the Malampaya scam during their five-hour meeting on April 21.

But just like in the PDAF scam, the DOJ chief refused to give further details pending validation of the information from Napoles through gathering of documentary proof and cross-checking with whistle-blowers led by Benhur Luy.

Napoles was among those charged with plunder by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) before the Office of the Ombudsman last October for the anomaly in the Malampaya fund, which formed part of earnings from the operation of the offshore Malampaya natural gas plant in Palawan remitted to the government for the latter’s exclusive use for energy development projects.

The NBI had alleged that Napoles and her staff forged signatures of mayors in pocketing the gas funds through ghost projects.

Napoles allegedly got wind that Malampaya funds would be released as early as July 2009, which prompted her to order her employees at the JLN Corp. to manufacture fake requests, fake memoranda of agreement, and fake liquidation reports after receiving the money.

She distributed kickbacks to public officials involved to get away with it, added the NBI complaint.

Her brother Ronald Francisco Lim, who remains wanted for the case involving the serious illegal detention of Luy, was also in the Malampaya plunder charge sheet.

Apart from the two, also named respondents in the plunder charges were 23 others – including former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, several officials of her administration and socialite Ruby Tuason.

Tuason, also a co-respondent of Napoles in the PDAF cases in the Office of the Ombudsman, was granted immunity last week after turning state witness and returning P40 million in kickbacks from the pork barrel scam.

But De Lima stressed that Tuason’s immunity only applies to the PDAF cases – not to the Malampaya scam where she had denied involvement.

Tuason, who allegedly pocketed P242 million in kickbacks, claimed it was her late brother Remy Chan who knew about the Malampaya anomaly.

De Lima said the Malampaya charges are still under fact-finding stage by the field investigation office of the ombudsman.

Among those charged with Arroyo were former executive secretary Eduardo Ermita, former Department of Agrarian Reform secretary Nasser Pangandaman, former DAR undersecretary Narciso Nieto, former DAR finance and management office director Teresita Panlilio who is now head of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) secretariat, former Department of Budget and Management secretary Rolando Andaya Jr., DBM undersecretary Mario Relampagos, Candaba Mayor Rene Maglangue, and DAR officers and employees Angelita Cacananta, Nilda Baui, Dominador Sison Jr., and Ronald Venancio.

Napoles’ camp, meanwhile, welcomed the immunity granted to Tuason in the PDAF scam.

After previously denying the claims of Tuason, Napoles is happy that the truth is now coming out, Rivera said.

“We are happy for Miss Tuason. At the end of the day, we just want the same thing – that the truth will come out,” he said.

However, Rivera again refused to confirm if Napoles would support the testimony of Tuason.

“I will not pre-empt the statement of my client. The ombudsman has validated her testimony based on existing testimony at this point,” he said.

But he said their camp is not worried by the development.

“We will only be worried if we weren’t telling the truth,” he said.

Rivera added that their discussions with the DOJ have not yet reached the issue of whether Napoles would seek immunity or bargain for a lower offense with her offer of testimony.