Napoles offered to implicate any legislator in PDAF scam: Valte

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2018 09:24 AM | Updated as of Mar 22 2018 10:06 AM

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Janet Napoles offered to implicate any legislator in the P10 billion pork barrel scam as long as it gets her off the hook, a former spokesperson of ex-President Aquino said Thursday.

Speaking to ANC, Abigail Valte said Napoles first made the offer when she submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) a list of legislators who allegedly funneled their priority development assistance funds to her bogus organizations.

"Mam, sino ba gusto natin ilagay sa listahan? Secretary [Leila] De Lima was very shocked by that statement. Her reply was: 'Wala kaming gusto ilagay sa listahan. Gusto namin kung sino talaga naka-transaksiyon mo,''" Valte said.

She said the offer to implicate any legislator in the multibillion-peso scam showed that Napoles "was willing to do anything to get off the hook."

"If she was willing, was forthright enough to say 'Sige, maglalagay ako nang pangalan na wala diyan,' credibility ang issue,' she said.

She added that during Napoles' surrender to President Aquino in August 2013, she repeatedly claimed that she was not guilty of anything but was "just doing business."

Dubbed the "mother of all scams", the pork barrel scam was first exposed in 2013 after National Bureau of Investigation agents rescued Napoles' relative, Benhur Luy, from detention in her unit at the Pacific Plaza Towers in Fort Bonifacio.

Several whistleblowers, including Luy, later revealed Napoles put up fake non-government organizations (NGO) that are listed as beneficiaries in several livelihood and agricultural projects. The funds used in these projects are usually sourced from lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel.

Around P10 billion pork barrel were allegedly coursed through the Napoles NGOs during a 10-year period.

According to Luy, Napoles would talk to lawmakers and would promise them commissions equivalent to 40 to 60 percent of the PDAF in exchange for the right to determine the implementing agency and fund beneficiary.

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The businesswoman allegedly used her employees, including drivers and nannies, to illegally receive government funds from various legislators using dummy foundations.

Napoles, who is facing various plunder charges before the Sandiganbayan, was recently placed under provisional status of the government's witness protection program.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has defended the DOJ's decision, saying Napoles is not the most guilty in the pork barrel scam.

"Kapag plunder, sino ba ang dapat idemanda dyan? Hindi ba government officials? Kung government officials, si Janet would be just a co-conspirator. Being a co-conspirator, she is not the most guilty,” Aguirre said.

“As between two almost equally guilty [individuals], who is more guilty, the public officer or a private person who just finished high school? If I put it, parang may depekto na ang charges sa Sandigan,” he added.

During her interview, Valte said Napoles' inclusion in the witness protection program was floated as early as last year but was opposed by the Office of the Ombudsman.

She also noted that a Commission on Audit special report on pork barrel fund use from 2007-2009 showed 192 legislators that were supposed to have been involved in the pork barrel scam.

"There are cases yet to be filed by the current DOJ and we don't know how her application for state witness will affect those cases," Valte said.

She also said that under de Lima, the DOJ was very careful about filing cases against legislators linked by Napoles to the scam.

"Hindi porke binigay ni Napoles ang listahan ay hook, line and sinker ang bili ng DOJ diyan. The DOJ had to make sure that in their case-building efforts, there were documentation to support any of the claims against any of the people in the list," she said.

The first batch of legislators who faced charges over the scam were those who had the most number of transactions with the bogus Napoles NGOs, she said.

Asked why the DOJ only filed charges against 3 batches of legislators, she said: "I think the DOJ simply ran out of time. Out of the 192, they had to do case-building. Simply lack of resources, lack of manpower. This is something the current DOJ can do, kung 192 ang nasa COA audit report, they can go through the list, find the evidence and file their own cases."