MANILA -- The Palace is appealing to the public not to maliciously interpret the picture of President Benigno Aquino III and Janet Lim Napoles' daughter, Jeane, to mean that the President is connected to the Napoleses.
Presidential Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said Aquino does not know any of the Napoleses even as a picture of him and Jeane surfaced, apparently taken from the latter's Instagram account.
President Benigno Aquino III and Janet Lim Napoles' daughter, Jeane. Photo grab from TV Patrol
Carandang said the picture was taken late November last year at a private event in Shangri-La Mactan in Cebu following the canonization of St. Pedro Calungsod.
As in any party that the President attended, Carandang explained that he was mobbed with people wanting to have their picture taken with him, with Jeane being one of them.
In a text message, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also confirmed that the photo was taken in Cebu November last year.
"[Jeane] had her photo taken with the President, as did a dozen other people who lined up to have their photo taken with him," Valte said.
Carandang also confirmed that Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the P10 billion pork barrel scam, and her husband were in the same party and also had a picture with Aquino, based on the picture archives of the Palace's official photographer.
Carandang said they only knew about it after ABS-CBN News asked them about it.
They refused, however, to release the photo of the President and the Napoles couple.
Aquino on Tuesday denied knowing Napoles. He said he tried to recall if he ever met Napoles when he was still a congressman.
"I looked at her. I can't remember her," Aquino said, recalling the encounter when Napoles was brought to Malacañang after she surrendered last August 28.
The President said he might have shaken hands with her in the past but does not even recall saying hi to her.
"I tried to recall her name. I hope I'm not turning senile but I can't recall her name," he said. -- With a report by Niña Corpuz, ABS-CBN News