Aquino's budget chief was Napoles 'mentor,' says lawyer

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 17 2017 06:00 PM

MANILA - Former president Benigno Aquino's budget secretary was responsible for teaching businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles about the inner workings of the P10-billion pork barrel scam, her lawyer claimed Wednesday. 

"According to the witnesses of the government, it's [former Budget Secretary] Butch Abad who mentored her," Napoles lawyer Stephen David told ANC's "Headstart." 

"Somebody mentored Janet Lim Napoles to do this, do that, how to proceed with this. It's common sense, how can a private person who has not even reached college manipulate the whole Senate? Unless there is someone higher than her, guiding her," he added. 

ABS-CBN News reached out to Abad, who was yet to respond as of posting. However, in previous interviews, Abad denied dealing with Napoles and had said he found it "amusing" that he was being implicated in the anomaly.

In a phone interview with ANC, spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Napoles' lawyer was only recycling the issue. 

"They have been trying to pin him down because he was the budget secretary. That has been raised again and again, the lawyer for Janet Napoles is trying to make fiction," said Lacierda. 

DAVID'S CLAIMS

David claimed Napoles met Abad when he was still representative of Batangas and head of the Congress appropriations committee. 

He added that Marina Sula, a former Napoles employee, previously testified that Abad was often seen in the businesswoman's office. 

Napoles is a prime suspect in the misuse of the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which some lawmakers allegedly siphoned into ghost projects of non-government organizations. 

Among those tagged in the scam were former senators Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla. 

David alleged former Justice secretary and now Senator Leila De Lima edited Napoles' list of lawmakers linked to the scam to protect those allied with the Aquino administration. 

"Who took the statement, the 120 statement? It was De Lima who came to the OsMak (Ospital ng Makati) and guided her (Napoles) in that statement. I was not able to guide her in doing that," David said. 

"I was outside but I was not allowed to enter the hospital room." 

David said Napoles must divulge her full knowledge of the scam through the administration's plan to re-investigate the anomaly. 

David however denied that the possible revival of the PDAF investigation was a ploy to discredit previous administration officials.