3 Napoles yachts now missing - BI

Posted at 08/27/2013 5:58 PM | Updated as of 08/27/2013 8:15 PM

MANILA (1st UPDATE) - Three yachts allegedly used or owned by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles that were docked at the Manila Yacht Club are missing, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) chief said Tuesday.

Speaking to radio dzMM, BI officer-in-charge Siegfried Mison said he received an intelligence report that the 3 yachts have gone missing.

"Ang pagkasabi po ng kapwa naming intelligence agency - may 3 yate na maaari pong nasa pag-aari o ginagamit po ni Mrs. Napoles ang hindi na po nila makita o ma-trace sa kanilang dapat na lugar," he said.

He said the intelligence agency asked the BI to "monitor possible travel of any of these seaworthy vessels from any port to outside the country."

An informant told the BI that Napoles' group may have boarded the three yachts from the Manila Yacht Club.

Mison said they received the information last week and they are still verifying the information.

The BI has told its counterparts in Malaysia, Indonesia and other neighboring countries on the possibility that Napoles may have left the country by traveling from one island to another.

Last August 16, National Bureau of Investigation agents also went to the Manila Yacht Club after they received a tip that Napoles boarded a yacht.

However, the club said that the three yachts had already left.

The NBI has alerted the Philippine Coast Guard for the boats that may be sailing in certain routes in the country.

Last August 14, a Makati Regional Trial Court issued arrest warrants against Napoles and her brother, Reynald Lim, for serious illegal detention of whistleblower Benhur Luy.

STILL NO DEPARTURE RECORD

Mison said that as of 12 noon Tuesday, the immigration bureau has yet to receive any report of Napoles or her brother, Reynald Lim Uy, leaving the country via the country's airports.

He said pictures of Napoles and her brother are plastered on immigration counters nationwide. He said the immigration bureau is also tapping intelligence counterparts to prevent the escape of the Napoleses with the connivance of some immigration officers.

"Ito naman po kasi mas vigilant po ang aming immigration offices sa airport atsaka yung aming intelligence counteraprts na humingi na po kami ng tulong na kung saka-sakai makita po itong tao na ito malapit sa airport ay alertuhan sana kami dahil kung hindi man sila sa formal immigration counter, baka gawin yung ginawa sa ibang fugitive na nakalabas," he said.

Napoles is at the center of a controversy over the alleged misuse of some P10 billion in pork barrel funds by some lawmakers reportedly through ghost non-government organizations she set up.

She and her brother are facing arrest for the illegal detention case filed by former employee and whistleblower Benhur Luy.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima earlier confirmed that Napoles and Lim are still in the country.

"Wala kaming reports, wala kaming indications, wala kaming info na sinasabi na nakalabas na si Mrs. Napoles and the brother. All existing leads na nakakalap ng [National Bureau of Investigation] ngayon point to the fact that they are still here but they are hiding," she told reporters during a press briefing of the Inter-Agency Graft Coordinating Council (IAGCC).

De Lima earlier said all regional and field offices of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have been alerted to help the 12 special teams of the bureau created specifically to arrest Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim on the strength of a warrant issued by Makati City regional trial court Branch 150 earlier this month. -- with a report from Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News