MANILA – Monsignor Josefino Ramirez on Saturday explained his continued relationship with the family of Janet Napoles.
Ramirez is one of the members of the Catholic Church who allegedly received money and benefits from Napoles, according to the whistleblowers of the pork barrel and Malampaya fund scam.
Documents secured by ABS-CBN and testimonies from the whistleblowers of the pork barrel and Malampaya fund scam show that the controversy involving Napoles seems to have spread beyond politicians and into the turf of the Catholic Church.
In the joint affidavit submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation, the whistleblowers said Ramirez receives a monthly stipend, allegedly from the account of Napoles herself.
As an example, they enumerated several checks that amounted to P150,000 pesos each.
ABS-CBN sources said that Ramirez now lives at a property also allegedly owned by Napoles.
A male house helper also confirmed this.
But the whistleblowers also mentioned in the joint affidavit that Ramirez makes it possible for the image of the Black Nazarene to be brought to the home of Napoles, where they will then hear mass.
Ramirez was the former rector of the Quiapo Church, where the Black Nazarene is kept.
In a letter to the Archdiocese of Manila, and forwarded to the media, Ramirez explained how his affiliation with the Napoles family started in 1992, with Janet's mother, Magdalena Luy Lim.
Ramirez said that Napoles's mother helps in the church's feeding programs for the poor and malnourished as well as in projects for the elderly and the inmates of the New Bilibid Prisons.
“Magdalena Luy Lim has always supported our apostolate for the poor most especially the Pantawid Gutom Feeding for the street people and malnourished children both in Binondo (1992-2004) and Quiapo (2004-2007) Parishes. When I was transferred to Divine Mercy Shrine in Mandaluyong City in 2007 she also helped our program for the elderly and our prison ministry in New Bilibid Prison,” he wrote.
In 2007, Ramirez said Magdalena Lim Luy heeded the call of then-Pope Benedict to help poor priests and seminarians in China.
The house helper in the Magallanes home confirmed that religious scholars also stayed there.
Ramirez explained that Napoles and her family were continuing their mother's advocacies through the Magdalena Lim Luy Charity Foundation, a group that Napoles now owns.
“Since her death on February 28, 2008, her family, relatives and friends, especially Filipino-Chinese devotees, continue to contribute in her memory to the now referred Magdalena Luy Lim Charity Foundation in the Service of Divine Mercy Inc.,” he said.
But there was no mention in the letter that would shed light on the alleged monthly stipends or the alleged transfer of the Black Nazarene.
ABS-CBN is still trying to elicit these answers from Ramirez, and the 2 other members of the Catholic Church, who were included in the alleged list of recipients of Napoles.