Koko defends estranged wife, denies kickbacks

By Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at May 27 2014 12:35 PM | Updated as of May 28 2014 11:03 AM

MANILA – Senator Aquilino ''Koko'' Pimentel III on Tuesday denied Janet Lim Napoles' claim that his estranged wife, Jewel May Lobaton, had received pork barrel kickbacks on his behalf.

Napoles, an alleged player in the P10 billion pork barrel scam, stated in her affidavit which was submitted to the Senate on Monday that a certain Louie Cruz gave P4 million to Lobaton as kickback for a P10 million project.

Pimentel denied this accusation, saying he never dealt with Napoles and her bogus non-government organizations (NGOs), much less his estranged wife.

''Sino naman ang husband at ama, na in his right mind, gagamitin ang kanyang misis na nanay ng kanyang mga anak sa kalokohan? Anong values ang makukuha ng mga bata?" Pimentel told radio dzMM.

''Ang tanong ko nga kay Janet, bakit niya pinipilit na may transaksyon siya [sa akin]. Noong 2012 tinanggihan ko siya, sa harap ng mukha niya,'' he said.

Pimentel said he met Cruz several times in the past but those meetings were only encounters.

He added Cruz was never an employee in his office.

''Si Louie Cruz, siguro mga two to three times ko lang nakita sa buong buhay ko eh 50 years old na ako. Siguro nakausap ko iyan, 'di pa humahaba sa 30 seconds sa buong buhay ko,'' he said.

The senator said Cruz was the one who facilitated Napoles' interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer last year when the pork barrel scam broke out.

"Purely kwento, ni walang pruweba. Tapos hindi pa niya kwento, kasi ginagamit pa niya ang isang tao,'' Pimentel said, referring to Cruz.

Pimentel said he is raring to have a face-off with Napoles in the Senate. He added Napoles' bid to make her and her family immune from charges must be denied.

The senator also denied that his father, former senator Aquilino ''Nene'' Pimentel Jr., was involved in the racket.

In the same affidavit, Napoles said a certain Mon Arcenas acted as the agent of the older Pimentel. She said Arcenas received a 45% rebate for a P14 million project in 2003.

The younger Pimentel said if his father indeed pocketed pork barrel funds, a Commission on Audit report questioning the supposed funds misuse should already be available by now.

''Grabe naman ang memory ni Napoles, pati 2003 naalala pa niya,'' he said.

''Kung talagang nangyari iyan, hindi ba dapat meron ng COA report? 2014 na, 11 years na, wala namang ka-finding-finding sa release na PDAF ng aking ama."