Napoles camp mulls written testimony before trial
MANILA – Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the P10 billion pork barrel scam, is mulling the possibility of writing down her testimony on the alleged scandal due to a very real threat to her life, her lawyer said Monday.
In an interview, lawyer Lorna Kapunan thanked Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago for proposing that Napoles perpetuate her testimony in case something happens to her even while in government custody. She said Napoles' affidavit is a "work in progress."
However, she also pointed out that Napoles cannot write down her affidavit until a proper complaint is filed.
“We are thinking about it. Not only are we thinking of perpetuation of testimony but also we were thinking of modes of discovery, meaning bills of particulars,” she said in an interview on ANC’s Headstart.
“In layman’s terms kasi - ang allegations in media or press statements of the Justice Secretary and the Ombudsman is not the formal complaint. That is why although we appreciate the suggestion of the senator and really we were intending to do that precisely because of the real threats on her life. There is no complaint to speak of… how can we perpetuate testimony when we don’t know what the complaint is all about?”
Kapunan confirmed that the threat to Napoles was no joking matter but refused to say if the person making the threat was a politician.
"He has. Otherwise, why would be seeking protection? Mamaya ako na mate-threaten, ako na made-detention diyan sa Fort Santo Domingo," she said.
She warned that there are elements who are interested in using the scandal to destabilize the government.
"If people pay more attention, it is so scary how deep this is. How many elements whose interest is to destabilize are now using this Napoles situation," she said.
Napoles is accused of setting up at least 20 fake non-government organizations to act as conduits of billions of pesos in lawmakers' priority development assistance funds (PDAF). Whistleblowers said Napoles returned the funds to the lawmakers, including senators and congressmen, in exchange for a cut of the taxpayers' money.
A Commission on Audit report said P1.9 billion in pork barrel funds were funneled to several NGOs linked to Napoles from 2007-2009.
Napoles is currently detained in Fort Santo Domingo in Santa Rosa, Laguna due to a pending serious illegal detention case filed by whistleblower and former personal assistant Benhur Luy.
P300 million extort try?
In the interview, Kapunan confirmed that a certain individual tried to extort P300 million from her client to "make the case disappear" even before the alleged scam came out in major dailies.
She said Napoles was able to tape her conversation with the person on her cell phone.
"I will not name now - but whoever the person came forward said that it was for this whole case to disappear. It covered sadly not only the [National Bureau of Investigation] but also the [Department of Justice]. P300 million," she said.
She also said Napoles has denied doing business with senators and lawmakers and that her wealth came from legitimate business interests abroad.
She described JLN Group of Companies as a "glamorized Chinaman operation."
"Kung ano yung kailangan, sino-source nila. Like, I have no idea, uniforms," she said.
"She is claiming that the source of her wealth is not from here. That the source of her wealth is from dividends on investments in foreign countries. The Indonesian partner came forward to say that he was willing to testify in a court proceeding. The American partners also came that same week to say they are willing to testify," she added.
Ritz apartment, Porsche
The lawyer admitted it is difficult to answer the allegations of so-called whistleblowers who are not even identified.
She cited as example allegations that Napoles has more than 400 bank accounts and 28 luxury homes including 2-3 houses in Forbes Park.
Kapunan said Napoles admitted owning 2 condo units at Pacific Plaza Towers in Taguig City and their original home in Magallanes. She, however, denied that Napoles owns a house in Forbes Park that is now being rented by a priest.
"She does not have 30 homes. Even the house that she has in Dasmarinas is a rental. It's a rental. There is one place that is owned by a corporation,. She owns one fourth, the rest are not hers. Her Pacific Place she explains because nag ba-buy and sell siya," Kapunan said.
Kapunan said her client admitted buying a luxury apartment at the Ritz Carlton in Los Angeles for one million US dollars. She said Napoles bought the unit after her youngest daughter, Jeane, was offered a scholarship to a US university.
"That is the reason why she had to get a unit. It is a studio that then cost about a million (dollars) and now has appreciated. there is no denying. A million dollars. That is how they acquired that," she said.
An ABS-CBN News report earlier quoted Napoles as saying that she is the co-owner of a P7-million hotel near Disneyland in Los Angeles, California.
Kapunan confirmed that Napoles bought her daughter a Porsche that was on sale. An ABS-CBN News report earlier said Napoles bought the Porsche as a gift to her daughter who graduated magna cum laude.
"The Porsche was a knockdown unit that was on sale. I was told di ba sa States nag di display sila ng kotse at yung kotse na hindi nabibili it is sold at a knockdown rate. That is what the Porsche is all about," she said.
But no yachts
Kapunan criticized allegations that Napoles and her foundations allegedly own 30 luxury cars. She challenged the Department of Justice to reveal the alleged source of the list of the luxury cars.
"They should ask the DOJ - where did they get the list? Did they get it from the whistleblowers? The problem with this is - this is an investigation in aid of media. They are announcing all of their findings to the media," she said.
"She is not apologizing for a lavish lifestyle. 30 cars is not a lavish lifestyle. 30 cars is a lie. 28 homes is a lie," she added.
She also noted that many of the allegations against Napoles came out while she was in hiding.
"It is so curious that all of this misinformation came out when she was in hiding. 3 yachts. Again that is not correct. She does not have 3 yachts. She does not even have a banca. She doesn't have an airplane or a submarine. She does not have a shark in an aquarium and 3 tigers in her house. All of this misinformation came out when she was in hiding. How can she confirm or deny? Lumabas lahat precisely yung whistleblowers nung wala siya, which I thought is unfair because people whose interest is to make her the poster person for this scam took advantage of the situation," she said.
No campaign funds to PNoy, Bam
Kapunan also debunked rumors that her client donated to the presidential campaign of Benigno Aquino III in 2010 and the senatorial bid of Aquino's cousin, Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino, this year.
"I asked her and she said no," Kapunan said in the interview.
She said she does not know if Napoles funded the campaigns of other senatorial candidates.
Kapunan also revealed that her client denied having any links to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. despite asking Brian Raymund Yamsuan, a consultant of the Executive Secretary, for help in reaching out to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Yamsuan was later fired due to his alleged connection to Napoles.
She said Napoles apologized to Ochoa and President Aquino during her surrender to the President last Wednesday.
"One of the things that happened during our audience with the President is- she apologized to Secretary Ochoa personally in fact to the President and said I do not know you," she said.
Why Kapunan took the case
In the interview, Kapunan revealed that a person she trusts asked her to take Napoles as a client.
"I am not a coddler. From Day 1, when I was asked - as a matter of fact she was brought to us upon the request of I won't mention the name but somebody I totally trust. Ang sinabi sa amin, maraming nagsisira sa kanya. Find out if you can trust her. Based on my conversation with her and meeting her family and the children, we believed in her. We believe in her. Now is crunch time. Enough of this - we are a reputable law firm. At the end of the day, there must be real and clear evidence," she said.
Kapunan challenged the Anti-Money Laundering Council to freeze the bank accounts of all senators and congressmen linked to the alleged pork barrel scam.
She said the AMLC should treat lawmakers the same way it has treated her client whose bank accounts are now under scrutiny.
"Their only basis can be the COA report. I will remind everybody that the COA report had 82 NGOs. I challenge the AMLC freeze all the accounts of the 82 NGOs. Why choose 7 of the 82? Seven alleged Napoles foundations. That same COA report also names senators and congressmen. They are specifically named senators and congressmen. Why don't you freeze all their accounts? I challenge you not only their accounts but the accounts of their children and staff kasi pati staff, the accounts of their offices..." she added.
The lawyer said filing the complaint against Napoles, whether it is tax evasion or plunder, will allow her client to air her side.
"Iba yung plunder, iba yung nonpayment of the correct taxes. We have advised her if you do not declare the correct taxes, simple lang yan, magbayad ka. Now she is saying that her taxes abroad are being handled by the corporations that own the companies. The corporate lawyers - these are dividends taxed in their respective jurisdictions. JLN is here. If there is a liability here, magbayad ka," she said.
She also pointed out that if a complaint for plunder is filed against a private individual, "a public officer whether that be a senator or congressman must be suspended from office immediately." This is so that a senator or congressman cannot abuse his officer in his defense, she added.
Kapunan said her client is entitled to "due process wherever that leads." She also said it is in the realm of possibility that her client was used by lawmakers.
"There is a possibility that she is telling the truth. It is also a possibility that she was used. We are in the realm of possibilities. If lawmakers used her in PDAF scam, they must go to jail. She must come out with it," she said.