DOJ sends notices to 97 mayors in Malampaya fund scam

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2013 03:29 PM | Updated as of Aug 13 2013 06:46 AM

MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) and its attached agency, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), has sent out notices to 97 mayors being linked to the alleged P900 million Malampaya fund scam.

The 97 mayors were named in an affidavit executed by Merlina Sunas, one of the so-called whistleblowers in the alleged wide-scale scam involving public funds perpetrated by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

Napoles is being investigated for allegedly siphoning off billions in public funds through the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of lawmakers.

In a text message, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said Napoles and her JLN Group of Companies is also being investigated for the multi-million peso Malampaya fund mess, this time, involving the misuse of Malampaya gas funds intended for local government units (LGU) ravaged by "Ondoy" and "Pepeng" in 2009.

"[W]e confirm that, along with the PDAF/pork barrel scam, NBI has been investigating the Malampaya Fund scam the past several weeks based on the testimonies of whistleblowers, principally, Benhur Luy and Merlina Sunas, and documents provided by them and other sources.’

"The whistleblowers confirm the accuracy of the list of 97 Mayors published by the [Philippine Daily] Inquirer, whose signatures were forged by JLN employees/staff making it appear that these Mayors had requested and benefitted from the P900 million secured by Napoles when the truth is, according to the whistleblowers, no funds were released to said Mayors, since the P900 million all went to Napoles/JLN," De Lima said.

Sunas, a former employee of Napoles and who claims to have served as her coordinator with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for the Malampaya Fund projects, claimed that she and other JLN staff prepared the letter-requests for the projects supposedly intended for the LGUs, and prepared the documents for the release of the funds.

The money went to the bogus non-government organizations (NGO) created by Napoles, she further claimed.

De Lima called on the mayors mentioned in Sunas' affidavit and accompanying documents to come forward and cooperate in the probe.

"Aside from individual notices/invitations sent to these Mayors, DOJ/NBI is issuing this general public invitation to the Mayors named in that list to cooperate in the ongoing NBI probe, either thru personal appearance before the NBI or submission of sworn statements on what they know or do not know about such scam," she said.

Napoles' camp has been insisting that her businesses are legitimate and all of her family's assets and properties were either from inheritance or legitimate sources.

Her camp had vowed to answer the accusations leveled against her at the appropriate forum.