De Lima agrees with freeze order on Benhur's bank accounts

Posted at 04/04/14 3:32 PM

Whistleblowers' accounts used by Napoles to hide pork scam proceeds - De Lima

MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) agrees with the inclusion of the bank accounts of "pork barrel" scam whistleblowers and witnesses in the Asset Preservation Order (APO) issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) in favor of a petition by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for the forfeiture of assets of those implicated in the multi-billion peso "pork barrel" scam.

The APO, issued by Manila RTC Executive Judge Marino Dela Cruz last March 25, ordered the indefinite freezing of the bank accounts, money instruments, and other assets of alleged scam brains Janet Lim Napoles, members of her immediate family, foundations allegedly used in the scam, and other individuals.

Among those covered by the freeze order are the bank accounts of primary whistleblower Benhur Luy and respondent-turned-state-witness-applicant Ruby Tuason.

The APO will remain in effect until the trial court resolves the forfeiture case.

De Lima stressed that the whistleblowers, all of whom had worked with Napoles, were used by Napoles in opening bank accounts in which to deposit the "pork barrel" scam proceeds.

Based on their affidavits, the whisleblowers claimed Napoles had full control of these bank accounts.

"Okay lang naman yun kasi nasabi naman talaga sa mga affidavit nila Benhur, may mga affidavits din sila (whistleblowers and witnesses) sinubmit in relation to that -- mga bank accounts na yung iba talaga doon in the name of Benhur.

"Yun mga information na yan, galing yan kina Benhur so okay lang na finifreeze talaga yun kasi those are the depositories of those funds (from the "pork barrel" of lawmakers) being channeled through those Napoles NGOs," De Lima said.


The AMLC did not include respondent Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., and Jinggoy Estrada in the forfeiture case with the Manila RTC Branch 22.

De Lima, however, said the AMLC is also bent on the recovery of the lawmakers' assets derived from alleged kickbacks and commissions they received from Mrs. Napoles.

"I'm not at liberty to be sharing ang nagiging work dyan (pertaining to the three senators) ng AMLC. Suffice it to tell you that AMLC has been working on these... but ganyang mga matters, it's not wise or advisable to be announcing in advance.

"Alam ninyo naman ang epekto noon kung malaman (by the other parties)," De Lima said.

The justice chief stressed that asset recovery is an important aspect in the prosecution of corruption cases, and is one of the mandates of the Inter-Agency Graft Coordinating Council (IAGCC).

The IAGCC is composed of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Commission on Audit (COA) Chair Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan, and De Lima.

"To really be able to deliver complete justice dito sa usapin na to ng PDAF scam and other related scams, we should also not stop at the prosecution aspect.

"Recovery of assets -- that's the fifth [mandate of the IAGCC], yung recovery of assets since the theory is that hindi sa kanila (respondents) ang pera na yan... so, in the end, dapat irecover yan.

"That is part of the integral process of exacting justice in anti-corruption cases, lalo na plunder," De Lima stressed.

Plunder and graft charges have been filed against the three senators, Napoles, and several others before the Ombudsman in connection with the "pork barrel" scam.

Last Tuesday, the Ombudsman released its resolutions finding probable cause against them.