MANILA – Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday said it is about time to kick off forfeiture proceedings against alleged pork barrel scam player Janet Lim Napoles and others named in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Cayetano said it is easier to conduct forfeiture proceedings than to prosecute an alleged corrupt official for graft or plunder. He added the Office of the Ombudsman also has the power to conduct a preliminary investigation on civil forfeiture upon a complaint filed by a citizen taxpayer.
"Kapag nakita mo na hindi proportional ang pera ng isang public official dun sa kanyang kita ay pwede ng kunin ng gobyerno ang properties na ito. Ang tanong ko nga, meron na ba tayong na-file na forfeiture cases sa mga senador? Easier ito sa graft at plunder; ito mas mabilis," Cayetano said in a statement.
A Manila court has already frozen the accounts and properties of Napoles and several others following a petition for civil forfeiture of assets filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) in February.
Cayetano said the freeze order should cover all of Napoles' properties, including her alleged jewelry collection. The senator also noted reports that Napoles' Ritz Carlton Residences condominium unit in Los Angeles, a residential lot and preschool in California, and 20 other vehicles, were not included in the freeze order.
Meanwhile, the senator also said he doubts that Napoles only netted P2 billion from pork barrel transactions, as indicated in a Commission on Audit report covering 2007-2009.
"Bakit hindi nila ipakita yung computation? Paano naging P2 billion? Maraming pinakitang properties si Ms. Napoles na negosyo eh, may hotel sa Amerika, may sinasabi siyang coal firm sa Indonesia. Dapat isauli mo yung buo," he said.
In a recent development, the Office of the Ombudsman denied Napoles' bid for immunity from the pork barrel cases.
The Ombudsman said Napoles appears to be one of the most guilty among the respondents in the plunder and graft cases in connection with the alleged pocketing of pork barrel funds.
Napoles claimed she donated money to Cayetano for the 2013 elections and that his uncle, a certain Tito Boy, was Cayetano's agent when Cayetano was still a congressman.
She claimed that she gave money to Tito Boy, which was returned incomplete when a project supposedly sponsored by Cayetano did not push through.
Cayetano pointed out Napoles' claims are vague. "I don't have a relative named VLL or Tito Boy. The point is - I never dealt with her. There is no SARO number. No details," he said.
He also said it is impossible for him to accept money from Napoles when they never had transactions in the past.