Benhur says Napoles withdrew his bank accounts

By Mike Frialde, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 18 2014 10:22 AM | Updated as of Jun 18 2014 06:22 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Pork barrel scam whistle-blower Benhur Luy testified again yesterday at a Makati court that his personal peso and dollar deposits with Metrobank were transferred to the accounts of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles while he was allegedly being illegally detained at a house in Magallanes Village in Makati.

During the continuation of the hearing at the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 on the illegal detention complaint he filed against Napoles, Luy told the court that he learned that while he was being held at Napoles’ house at 52 Lapu Lapu St. in Magallanes Village, the businesswoman allegedly forged his signature on withdrawal slips and debit memos and transferred P800,000 from his account with Metrobank’s Julia Vargas street branch in Ortigas to the account of the businesswoman’s firm JLN on Dec. 20, 2012.

Luy added that his dollar account at Metrobank with a balance of $13,761 was closed on Dec. 27, 2012, allegedly also on Napoles’ orders.

Luy said he only knew of the transfer of his bank accounts and the withdrawals shortly after his rescue by the National Bureau of Investigation on March 22, 2013.

“I did not cause the preparations of those withdrawal slips,” said Luy during his direct examination by prosecution lawyer Henry Salazar.

Under direct examination, Luy also told the court that while he was being illegally detained, Napoles padlocked his unit at One Lafayette condominium at Eastwood City in Quezon City.

Luy told the court that during his illegal detention, he was deprived of access to his condominium unit and his personal items inside valued at some P1 million.

He presented in court a three-page handwritten inventory of the items inside the padlocked condominium unit.

In the hearing last Oct. 2, JLN’s former employee Merlina Pablo Sunas also testified that Napoles became so angry at her cousin Luy for allegedly entering into secret deals with the chiefs-of-staff of some senators that she ordered the money in Luy’s bank accounts transferred to JLN’s accounts using his forged signature.

Meanwhile, the court also accepted yesterday the resignation of Alfredo Villamor as lawyer of Napoles in the illegal detention case.

Villamor was replaced as Napoles’ lead counsel by Stephen David, who will also serve as her lawyer in her plunder case before the Sandiganbayan.

David will be assisted by Napoles’ spokesman Bruce Rivera as collaborating lawyer in the illegal detention case.

Luy will return to the witness stand in the Makati court on July 1 at 10 a.m. for cross-examination by the lawyers of Napoles.

Rivera told reporters that the defense panel is not trying to delay the illegal detention case hearing by constantly replacing lawyers.

Rivera said Villamor had resigned on Monday as Napoles’ lawyer after the recent deaths of his parents.

“We talked and he (Villamor) told me before his parents are sick. But I did not expect this to happen immediately. I would not want to blame him for the problems,” said Rivera.

Rivera said that Napoles’ defense panel in the illegal detention case would be hiring two additional lawyers.