Palace downplays PNoy pic with Napoles daughter
Malacañang on Wednesday confirmed the authenticity of the photo circulating on social media showing the daughter of detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles smiling side by side with President Benigno Aquino III.
Napoles daughter's photo op with PNoy. President Aquino must be photographed with hundreds of fans at every public event he attends. One of them was Jeanne Napoles, the daughter of suspected pork scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles, who posed next to PNoy during an event marking the canonization of San Pedro Calungsod in Cebu on November 30, 2012. Jeanne became the symbol of pork abuse when video of her lavish lifestyle spread on the Internet, along with her photos posing with pop stars like Justin Bieber. Her photo with PNoy has been shared widely on social media. No evidence, however, of any other association between Aquino and the Napoles family has turned up.
In a statement, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the photo of Aquino with Jeane Napoles was taken at an event in Cebu last November, but sought to downplay it.
"She 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.
Jeane's mother is a principal suspect in a supposed scam where billions in pork barrel funds allegedly ended in several individuals' pockets through bogus non-government organizations.
The photo surfaced a day after Aquino denied knowing the elder Napoles before the pork barrel controversy broke out.
Janet Napoles is currently detained in connection with a serious illegal detention case. She surrendered to Aquino on August 28 hours after the President offered a P10-million reward for any information that could lead to her arrest.
Jeane herself became the subject of controversy after photos of her lavish lifestyle abroad circulated on the internet.
The pork barrel controversy has prompted Aquino to move for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the formal name of pork barrel funds received by lawmakers every year. It has also led to the largest protest rally under his three-year-old administration. — Kimberly Jane Tan/KBK, GMA News