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Napoles wealth came from real pork, not 'pork barrel,' says her lawyer

August 13, 2013 2:50pm
(Updated 6:55 p.m.) "Ironically enough, their business really started in pork."

Janet Lim-Napoles's feisty lawyer on Tuesday asserted that her client's money came from legitimate sources and not shady deals involving public funds, detailing how Napoles's mother used to trade in meat products.

"Ang mother niya was masipag. She has a small fortune sa province. Hindi naman malaki but they were smart enough to invest in small venture businesses," Napoles's lawyer Lorna Kapunan said in an interview on GMA News TV's "News To Go."

Among the businesses that did well was the selling of pork and chicken, Kapunan added. "It is so ironic that now she is being blamed for everything."

She said that humble beginning eventually became JLN Corporation, which various whistleblowers have said was a conduit for billions in pork barrel funds. Kapunan insisted it is a trading company engaged in legitimate businesses, but was vague about the goods it currently trades in.

Her client Napoles is the alleged mastermind of a lucrative and longrunning racket that funnels lawmakers' pork barrel funds to bogus NGOs.

In a roundtable discussion with editorial staff of the "Philipppine Daily Inquirer," which broke the pork barrel scam story, Napoles denied any wrongdoing but could not clearly explain where her wealth came from.

Her lawyer Kapunan did not accompany her client to the Inquirer but had ready answers on Tuesday morning on "News To Go."

Coal business

Apart from the fortune Napoles purportedly inherited from her mother, she told the Inquirer that she derives her income from coal.

Kapunan on Tuesday gave more details but refused to give the name of the Indonesian coal firm, supposedly to protect its Indonesian shareholders.

"[The coal company] did not start as a successful business venture like all business ventures. It first started not in coal but several other businesses," she said.

Kapunan said one of the shareholders was a friend of Napoles' husband, Jimmy Napoles, a former military officer and a member of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) which staged coup attempts during the administration of President Cory Aquino.

"They started with small venture funds. Maliit lang na pondo. They tried one business after the other sa Indonesia and naging successful naman sa Indonesia," Kapunan said.

The lawyer added that the coal firm attempted to export high-grade coal to the Philippines but none of the companies wanted to get coal from them due to its high prices.

"Since hindi sila nakaka-export dito, they exported to other countries like Korea and India," she said.

No contract with the PHL govt

Meanwhile, Kapunan reiterated that Napoles' company, JLN Corp., never entered into any contract with the government, nor has Napoles ever personally known Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, two of the senators implicated in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or "pork barrel" controversy.

"She knew them [only] because of the apos. If you ask them, they will say they don’t know her that way. They don’t have dealings with her," Kapunan said.

"It is now so convenient to blame Mrs. Napoles. This is the biggest of all scams [that] this businesswoman becomes the scapegoat of officials who have malversed," she added.

Kapunan asked the government to form a special fact-finding committee to probe the incident.

She also reiterated her camp's appeal that the National Bureau of Investigation team that earlier investigated Napoles in a separate case of illegal detention should not be allowed to get involved in the probe.

"You cannot investigate your peers. We wrote to [Justice Secretary Leila] De Lima to please invite us but we will not appear if this is the same kidnapping team. If they are the same people whom we have filed complaint against for this warrantless arrest," she said.

Kapunan attacks Inquirer

In perhaps her fiercest defense of her client so far, Kapunan attacked the Inquirer, which has run numerous articles about Napoles and her family, and their involvement in the pork barrel scam.

"Some of the (Inquirer) reporters are liars. I will give them a dose of their own medicine: some of the reporters there are alleged liars and they are alleged recipients of money from alleged powers," Kapunan said live on GMA News TV. "Let them sue me. I know what they will say, what is your proof? All the things you write in PDI, the same thing you do to Janet Napoles, we can do it to you."

Sought for reaction, the Inquirer's publisher, Raul Pangalangan, defended their staff's reporting.

"The Inquirer stands by its story," Pangalangan told GMA News. "The news about Janet Napoles and the scam over the pork barrel is not a story we stumbled upon and decided to print. It was a story that was researched by the Inquirer reporters."

He said they had the story for several months before they decided to publish it "precisely because we wanted to rely on authenticated documents and sworn statements (and) on COA [Commission on Audit] reports."

"We relied upon very authoritative documents before we came out with the report fully knowing that the report was coming out with such very heavy and grave accusatios against a lot of people," Pangalangan said.

"So if the concern was that the report was casting allegations carelessly, that is absolutely not true," he added. – Mark Merueñas/VVP/HS, GMA News
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