Jul 152013

The businesswoman implicated in the P10-billion ghost project scam involving legislators’ pork barrel funds has fired back with her own accusations against a probable witness in the case.

“Hindi po. Ako ay isang mother ng mga anak ko. Si Benhur ‘Kilap Kilap’ Luy ang scammer,” Janet Lim Napoles said in a one-on-one interview with GMA News’ Vicky Morales on Saksi on Monday. 

This was Napoles’ response to allegations that she is the “mother of all scams,” after being implicated in multi-billion peso ghost projects being probed by the National Bureau of Investigation.

Her accuser, Luy, said Napoles’ company JLN Corporation was tapped in ghost projects of the government, including the fertilizer fund scam, the Malampaya fund scam, and several other projects implemented with money coming from the Priority Development Assistance Fund.

The ghost projects were pegged in one report as totalling P10 billion worth, and the scam had allegedly been going on for 10 years.

“Wow, napakalaki niyan, P10 billion. Buong release na ‘yan ng Kongreso at Senado. So bakit for 10 years ngayon lang sila nagsalita?” Napoles said, frowning. 

Sitting with her legs crossed and her hands on her lap, Napoles appeared calm. However, her voice rose as she called for proof of the accusations against her. 

“Kaya nga ho, nakakahiya. Nananawagan naman ako kay Ma’am na sana mapatunayan muna ng mga whistleblower bago naman po idamay nila, dinungisan ang isang institusyon na Senado, dahil lang sa mga whistleblower na gustong magtago, magkubli ng katotohanan,” Napoles said, referring to Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s call for the senators named in the issue to go on leave

Lawmakers involved

A report on the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which broke the story on the alleged scam, named five senators and 23 members of the House of Representatives who have allegedly made their PDAF allocations available to Napoles’ group. 

According to the article, Senator Bong Revilla topped the list with 22 instances recorded at the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

He is followed by former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile with 21, Senate Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada with 18, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. with four, and Sen. Gringo Honasan with one. 
“Kaya kung may delicadeza sila, mag-leave sila immediately. Dahil hindi maiimbestiga ito ng Senado habang nandiyan sila,” Santiago said in a Saksi report on Monday. 

“Pigilan niyo ako. Because I want to kill or be killed. This morning when I read the newspapers, I really wanted to nuke the entire Senate building because although every person is presumed to be innocent that banner headline story is reportedly supported by an affidavit of an eyewitness,” Santiago said.

Luy earlier claimed being detained against his will by Napoles after finding out Luy was planning to set up a similar company to compete with Napoles.’ 

“Benhur’s assertion that he wanted to establish his own business and contacts similar to JLN Corp is an implied admission that JLN Corp is engaged in a legitimate business. He certainly would not admit in his sworn statement that the business he wished to open is illegal,” Napoles said in an earlier report

In the interview, Napoles again denied that her company entered into any transactions with the senators or any of their representatives. “Wala po,” she said, shaking her head.

But she admitted that she was acquainted with some of the senators. “Mayroong iba kilala dahil ‘yung anak naman magkakaibigan minsan, eh ilan lang naman ang marangal na unibersidad dito. Mag-classmate, pero wala kaming transaksyon sa kanila,” she said.

Lawmakers react

In a statement, Enrile denied knowing Napoles or receiving any bribes for the utilization of his Priority Development Assistance Fund.

“I do not know Ms. Janet Lim Napoles, nor have I had any personal or business transactions with her or her company. I have not received any bribe or in any way financially benefited from nor in exchange for the utilization of my PDAF. I am submitting myself to a full investigation and audit of all my PDAF allocations over the years I served as senator,” Enrile said in a statement shown in the Saksi report.

Meanwhile, Marcos and Revilla said the issue may be linked to the 2016 elections.

“I am eager to cooperate with any investigation, which will reveal the truth of this matter. I am also exploring the possibility that there may be a political angle to all this in light of the upcoming Presidential elections in 2016,” Marcos said.

“Hindi totoo and mga akusasyon na nakinabang ako sa usaping ito… Porke ba may mga nagtutulak sa ating tumakbo sa 2016 ay wawasakin na nila ang aking pangalan?” Revilla said.

For his part, Honasan called for evidence. “All records re: use of development funds being managed by my office are subject to accounting and auditiing procedures according to law,” Honasan said.

Estrada did not issue a statement on the matter, however, he earlier said he would not allow his office to be used in any scams, the report said. Carmela G. Lapeña/KG/RSJ, GMA News

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