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RECAP: Napoles at Senate pork scam hearing (Nov. 7, 2013)

November 7, 2013 9:51am

Janet Napoles presents herself to the Senate
Janet Napoles presents herself to the Senate. Janet Lim-Napoles takes her oath before testifying at a Senate inquiry into the alleged P10B pork barrel scam on Thursday, November 7. Benjie Castro
Janet Lim-Napoles, suspected mastermind of the alleged pork barrel scam involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF of lawmakers, appeared for the first time at the Senate hearing on the matter Thursday.

Napoles is facing plunder charges at the Ombudsman for the P10-billion pork barrel scam. Among her co-accused are Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. 
The lawmakers, their staff, and other government officials allegedly received kickbacks from Napoles when their PDAF was funneled to fake non-government organizations for ghost projects.
Below is a recap of the nationally televised hearing, which was also attended by Napoles' former employee Benhur Luy and other whistleblowers.

10:06 a.m. Napoles enters the Senate hall wearing a bullet-proof vest.

She is seated next to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, whose office has been investigating the allegations against Napoles.

10:12 a.m. Sen. TG Guingona, chair of the blue ribbon committee, says the committee is hoping to get a complete picture of the scam "para 'di na ito maulit pa." He reiterates that it is important for Napoles to address the issues raised by the whistleblowers, and to convey the truth to the public. "Pagkakataon niyong makatulong sa bayan. Huwag niyong sayangin," Guingona appeals to Napoles.

10:15 a.m. Napoles takes her oath.

10:16 a.m. When asked by Guingona, Napoles says she has no lawyer to represent her. Guingona says there are three lawyers from the Public Attorney's Office present at the venue who can represent her. He gives Napoles until 10:30 a.m. to talk to the PAO lawyers, who had informed the senators that it's their first time to meet Napoles.

READJanet Napoles faces Senate pork probe for first time

10:48 a.m. Hearing resumes. PAO lawyer Howard Areza says they have informed Napoles of her constitutional rights. He said their client is requesting for an executive session, which would mean it would be conducted behind closed doors, due to the sensitivity of the issue.

READ: Napoles asks for executive session with senators 

10:49 a.m. Guingona suspends the hearing so the senators can discuss the request.

10:53 a.m. Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano reads the rules governing the conduct of an executive session in the Senate. 

10:55 a.m. Guingona says the committee is rejecting Napoles' request for an executive session, and again appeals for her to tell the whole truth.

10:56 a.m. Guingona asks Napoles about her occupation. Napoles says her family is already facing a tax evasion case filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and she would answer the question only after the tax case is resolved.

10:58 a.m. Asked if she knows the whistleblowers, Napoles says she knows her former employee Benhur Luy and his mother Gertrudes, who takes care of her children.

10:59 a.m. Asked about Helen Suñas, Napoles described her as a friend of Benhur but says she is not her employee. Napoles confirmed that Marina Sula was their bookkeeper, while another whistleblower, Arlene Baltazar, does what she asks her to do.

11:02 a.m. Guingona asks Napoles if it is true that she asked Benhur Luy and other whistleblowers to set up fake non-government organizations, as Benhur alleged. Napoles says, "Hindi po."

11:04 a.m. Benhur and Suñas disagree with Napoles. "Nagsisinungaling po siya," Benhur says.

READNapoles disputes whistleblowers' allegations

11:06 a.m. Marina Sula says Napoles asked them to form 20 NGOs and another one named after her mother, Magdalena Luy Lim Foundation. Napoles says the Foundation is legitimate and it was formed to conduct outreach projects. "'Yun lang po ang tinayo namin," Napoles says, adding the other NGOs mentioned by Guingona are not legitimate.

11:08 a.m. Napoles asks for the affidavits of the whistleblowers so she can show these to her lawyers.

READ: Emerging from detention, Napoles denies whistleblowers' allegations

11:11 a.m. Suñas says she is the president of People's Organization for Progress and Development Inc., one of the fake NGOs put up by Napoles.

11:12 a.m. Napoles says "hindi ko alam" when Guingona asked her how the whistleblowers were able to establish the NGOs, whose office addresses were linked to Napoles.

11:13 a.m. Benhur Luy says Napoles is lying, adding that three NGOs were already established when he joined JLN Corporation, the company headed by Napoles, in 2002. "Paghawak ko ng records, meron ng listahan ng transaction sa gobyerno," Benhur says.

11:14 a.m. Napoles keeps denying the existence of the other NGOs and says, "Nakakaawa po 'yung mga senador na na-drag 'yung mga pangalan," referring to the senators linked to the pork barrel scam.

11:21 a.m. Guingona asks Napoles about the veracity of Benhur's testimony that Napoles had asked them to make vouchers for the kickbacks for lawmakers. Napoles replies, "Sa tingin niyo, kung mga ganung kickback tulad ng sinabi niyo, do you think ang isang mambabatas at chief of staff pipirma ng mga ganung voucher? Kasinungalingan 'yan, walang bigayan ng pera." Napoles also denies receiving 35 percent kickback from PDAF projects, but Suñas stands by her statement.

11:24 a.m. Benhur and Sula reaffirm they prepared the vouchers for these kickbacks. "Kaming dalawa ni Arlene Baltazar ang magkatulong na mag-shred ng mga check at mga voucher," Sula said. Arlene confirms this and says Napoles asked them to shred the documents at her Pacific Plaza unit so there will be no evidence linking her to the scam.

11:29 a.m. Napoles says, "Hindi po. Wala po," in reply to Guingona's question regarding the shredding of documents. Sula says because of the volume of documents that had to be destroyed, Napoles had to buy a heavy-duty shredder so the equipment will not overheat.

11:32 a.m. Guingona asks Benhur who received the kickbacks. Benhur says they gave the pertinent documents to the Ombudsman during the filing of the case. But he affirms that he has seen lawmakers arriving at the office to receive the money. He also confirms that he has personally given the money to the lawmakers or their representatives, after the latter signed the vouchers.

11:34 a.m. Benhur tells Guingona that he has personally seen the following persons in their office and received money: Congressman Valdez, Atty. Richard Cambe, Ruby Tuason, and Pauline Labayen.

11:35 a.m. Guingona asks Napoles if she knew the lawmakers mentioned by Benhur. Napoles denies knowing them.

11:41 a.m. Benhur says he has the numbers of the bank accounts of the recipients of the kickbacks. He also says he goes to the houses of the lawmakers to deliver the money.

11:48 a.m. Benhur details the division of kickbacks. He adds that among those who received the kickback for Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile is his chief of staff, Atty. Gigi Reyes. For Atty. Jinggoy Estrada, Benhur says Pauline Labayen and Ruby Tuason received the kickbacks amounting to 50 percent of the project costs.

12:00 p.m. Benhur says Napoles gave him instructions about the fund deposits. She also told them to buy dollars from the black market and deposit the money in her bank account in the US. Benhur says he even has the account number of Napoles. Guingona asks Napoles if this is true. Napoles says, "Hindi po totoo." She adds that there is already a pending case about this matter and she will reply then.

12:04 p.m. Guingona asks Napoles if it is true that liquidation documents were just forged as alleged by the whistleblowers. "Hindi po totoo," says Napoles. Suñas says the beneficiaries did not receive anything. Sula says, "Nagsisinungaling po siya. Kasi dun sa mga list of recipients, pumirma po siya. Nameke din po si Madam Napoles sa list of beneficiaries." Napoles says it is not true that she signed such documents. "Hindi po," she says.

12:08 p.m. Benhur says there are many agents working for them, and names fashion designer Eddie Baddeo as one of them. He says Baddeo has a list of the projects. Benhur details the process of the scam down to the local government unit level. 

12:12 p.m. Napoles denies Benhur's story. Guingona asks Napoles if she is aware that she is under oath and that she is at risk of perjury if she does not tell the truth. Napoles replies, "Opo."

12:13 p.m. Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago thanks the committee for allowing her to speak ahead of schedule as she is sick. She turns to Napoles and addresses her, "Oh there you are. Let me take a good look at you."

12:15 p.m.: Santiago discusses jurisprudence regarding the right against self-incrimination. She says the right applies only to a criminal case, and the matter at hand is an administrative case.

12:17 p.m. Santiago tells Napoles, "I will not bully you. I won't out-shout you... I remind you Ms. Witness... wala kang karapatang magsabi ng kasinungalingan. Kasi 'pag nagsinungaling ka, lagot ka... Nagsumpa ka eh." She addresses the crowd, "What is so funny over there?!"

12:23 p.m. Napoles is all ears listening to Santiago. "Hindi tama na bigyan ka namin ng libre (na lawyer)," Santiago tells her, adding that public lawyers are for those who cannot afford a lawyer.

12:24 p.m. Santiago asks Napoles about Tanda (code name for a lawmaker). Napoles invokes her right against self-incrimination.

12:27 p.m. Santiago says, "Sino pa ba ang matanda dito sa Senado kung 'di si Enrile?... Is Sen. Estrada si Sexy?" Napoles says, "Hindi ko po alam." Santiago says, "'Di mo alam? Alam mo eh," then instructs Napoles to just invoke her right against self-incrimination. She talks to a lawyer from PAO and asks him to talk to his client. Santiago asks Napoles then if Sen. Revilla is Pogi. Napoles invokes her right against self-incrimination.

READ: Miriam warns Napoles: Don't lie, don't always invoke right vs. self-incrimination

12:31 p.m. Santiago continues to grill Napoles and the latter continues to deny the allegations. "Anong alam mo? Naka-deadma ka sa akin." Santiago says. 

12:40 p.m. Santiago tells Napoles it is very important "na hindi ikaw ang pinaka-most guilty." She says if Napoles will be found most guilty, she may be sentenced to 20-40 years. "isang disgrasya para sa isang babae... Inaamin mo ba na ikaw ang most guilty?" she asks Napoles, who replies "Hindi po."

12:43 p.m. Santiago advises Napoles to tell everything: "Habang buhay ka pa, nasa panganib ang mga senador na mawala lahat ng kayamanan nila. Pero ngayon pa lang (kung sasabihin mo lahat), wala na silang motibo na patayin ka nila kasi nasa dokumento na (ang sasabihin mo). These people are murderers. Ngayon pa lang sabihin mo. Sino ang pinaka-guilty?" 

12:44 p.m. "Hindi ko po alam," Napoles says. Santiago says, "'Di mo alam? Ako alam ko."

12:47 p.m. "Kung si Enrile ang most guilty, sabihin mo na para 'di ka niya ipapatay," Santiago tells Napoles. "'Wag mong i-underestimate si Enrile na 'yan. May asim pa rin si Tanda."

READSantiago tries to lure Napoles to spill the beans

12:52 p.m. Napoles tells Santiago she has been trading in international carbon credits.

12:55 p.m. Napoles says yes when Santiago asks about her ties with a Quiapo priest. Santiago says: "Siguro tinuruan ka ng pari about the 10 commanments... Isa dun ay 'wag kang magnakaw. Bakit ka nagnakaw?"

1:00 p.m. Santiago asks Napoles, "Sinong PRO (press relations officer) mo? Nagbabayad ka ba ng mga tao na mag-iikot sa media?" Napoles says, "Wala po akong alam diyan."

1:08 p.m. Santiago asks Napoles about her shipyard business in Cebu that began in the early 1990s. "Saan mo nakuha ang expertise sa business na 'yun?" the senator asks. Napoles is not able to answer the question, as Santiago starts to pose another question.

1:11 p.m. Santiago asks Napoles when and how she began to get rich. Napoles invokes her right against self-incrimination.

1:15 p.m. Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano asks Napoles if she is guilty of the PDAF scam. Napoles says she is innocent, but the last syllable could not be heard on the microphone. Napoles adds, "Pasensiya na po kayo. Nahihilo na po ako kasi diabetic ako, past 1 p.m. na."

1:17 p.m. Hearing is suspended. Committee takes a break for lunch.

Past 2 p.m. Hearing resumes. Cayetano asks Napoles if she is expecting to be absolved from the charges. Napoles replies, "Opo." Cayetano then asks if she has dealings with the government. Napoles says, "Wala," then invokes her right against self-incrimination.

2:25 p.m. Cayetano asks about Napoles' dealings regarding the fertilizer fund, showing her two documents regarding the procurement of fertilizers with her supposed signature. Napoles denies the signatures on the documents are hers, but Sula asserts that the signatures indeed belong to the businesswoman.

2:27 p.m. Cayetano asks Napoles if she started dealing with the goverment before 2001. Napoles says she cannot remember. She does say that she started engaging in business in the '80s, first in the shipyard industry, then in the buying and selling of real estate.

2:36 p.m. Cayetano asks Napoles how she should be described -- middle class? "Tama lang sa buhay," Napoles replies. Cayetano then inquires about the businesses of Napoles' siblings. Napoles requests the committee to respect her family's right to privacy, but Cayetano says her family members' names have already been dragged into the issue. Probed further about her assets, Napoles says the family mausoleum, for instance, was constructed at a cost of less than P10 million, contrary to reports that it cost P30 million. She, however, refuses to answer when asked how many condominium units she owns due to her ongoing tax evasion case.

READNapoles says she is not rich

2:44 p.m. Cayetano asks Napoles if she has an idea why the whistleblowers, who have worked for her for years, have made all these allegations against her. Napoles says, "Hindi ko po alam." "Wala kayong pinag-awayan?" Cayetano asks. "Wala po," Napoles replies.

2:47 p.m. Cayetano asks Napoles if she or anyone in her family has served in the government. Napoles says her daughter tried to serve through the Smile party-list. Cayetano says the Smile party-list was mentioned twice in the Hello Garci tapes supposedly involving former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

2:57 p.m. Sen. Chiz Escudero says he has reviewed all the interviews given by Napoles in the past few months to various media outlets. He says Napoles had mentioned that when the NBI raided her condominium unit, one of her children got hurt. Napoles says she cannot remember. Escudero reminds her some more, and then Napoles says, "Nagkatulakan kasi po noon."

3:00 p.m. Escudero reminded Napoles that she has also said she was not aware of the pork barrel scam, and only found out about it from media reports. Napoles replies, "Opo." Escudero reminds her that she had also said Benhur Luy has a lady boss. Asked who that lady boss is, Napoles says she cannot remember.

3:07 p.m. Benhur's legal counsel Levito Baligod says he was offered P5 million by Alfredo Villamor, the lawyer of Napoles, to convince Benhur and other whistleblowers to drop the case against her. Baligod added that he was offered P250M to P300M when he met with Napoles. Upon further questioning by Escudero, Baligod denied asking Napoles for money. Napoles makes the sign of the cross.

3:15 p.m. Escudero asks Napoles why she requested for an executive session with senators at the start of hearing. She says she was advised to do so by her lawyer.

3:21 p.m. Sen. Bam Aquino asks Napoles about her coal business in Indonesia. Napoles says she will not reply "para hindi pagpiyestahan 'yung sa Indonesia," adding that the details are in her affidavit in the tax evasion case filed by the BIR.

3:28 p.m. Sen. JV Ejercito says it will be a big help if Napoles will talk since this is a big scam.

3:30 p.m. Sen. Grace Poe tells Napoles that although there may be death threats against her, the public should be seen as the one "na may poot sa inyo... Ito po ang pagkakataon para depensahan ang inyong sarili," she says.

3:33 p.m. Sen Poe asks Napoles if it is correct that she was "galing sa hirap." Napoles agrees. Poe then asks, "Meron po ba kayong damdamin para sa mga mahihirap sa ating bayan?" She then asks Napoles about the ornamental fertilizer supposedly delivered to poor farmer beneficiaries through Jo-Chris Trading, one of Napoles' companies. Napoles denies there was such a project. Benhur, however, confirms Napoles' company was involved in this project.

3:38 p.m. Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV asks Napoles if she has anything to add to her defense. Napoles replies, "Wala na po. Nasabi ko na lahat."

3:45 p.m. Benhur reads from his affidavit and says P751,500,000 in PDAF funds were involved in the scam. The commission from this is P375,750,000. Trillanes asks Napoles about this, and the latter replies, "Nasa Ombudsman na po ang kaso."

3:48 p.m. Trillanes asks De Lima if there are senators involved in the next batch of complaints regarding the PDAF scam. De Lima says, "Nililinis pa." The Justice Secretary further explains that the NBI is focusing on the Napoles component of the PDAF scam.

3:53 p.m. Trillanes asks De Lima if the Justice Secretary can assure them of objectivity in the investigation. De Lima says, "I don't care about the political affiliation," adding she just gives the go signal once the investigation by the NBI is complete.

3:56 p.m. Trillanes tells Benhur to continue with their fight, and wishes them well under the Witness Protection Program.

3:58 p.m. Cayetano asks Napoles if she knew anything about Benhur being involved in the PDAF scam. Napoles says no. He then asks Napoles why she earlier said that "kawawa 'yung tatlong senador." Cayetano says, if she claims to be innocent and does not know anything about the PDAF scam, why does she feel sorry for the three senators? Napoles says she only knew about this through newspaper reports and that saying "kawawa sila" is only her opinion. 

4:02 p.m. Guingona thanks everyone then suspends the hearing until further notice.

4:03 p.m. Napoles stands up and prepares to leave the Senate hall.

– with Luis Gorgonio/YA, GMA News
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