DOJ to block hospital arrest for Napoles
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) is ready to oppose any move by the camp of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles to have her placed under "hospital arrest," Secretary Leila de Lima said yesterday.
“That would really depend on the decision of the court based on her condition. But on the side of the prosecution, we will block these kinds of moves,” De Lima told reporters in an interview.
De Lima made the statement after Napoles was rushed to a hospital before dawn last Thursday due to pain, nausea and continuous vomiting. She was returned to her detention facility at Fort Sto. Domingo after two hours at the Southern Luzon Hospital in Sta. Rosa City in Laguna.
Meanwhile, Benhur Luy, the main whistleblower in pork barrel scam, made an emotional testimony yesterday before the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 hearing the serious illegal detention case he filed against Napoles and her brother Reynald “Jojo” Lim.
Accused of betrayal by his former boss Napoles, Luy said he was locked up for three months on her orders and threatened with harm and even death along with his family. He was rescued in March by National Bureau of Investigation operatives.
Luy, 32, said his harrowing experience began on the morning of Dec. 19 last year during a meeting of Napoles’ JLN Group of Companies in Unit 2502 of the Discovery Suites in Ortigas in Pasig City. He said Napoles during the meeting confronted him about his keeping a number of one her contacts in his cellular phone directory.
Also present in the meeting were Merlina Suñas, Evelyn de Leonand, and Ronald John Lim, a project manager of JLN and nephew of Napoles.
Luy told the court Napoles had called for the meeting to discuss backlogs in their projects bankrolled using lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Luy said that during the meeting, Napoles asked about their transactions in Masbate and directed him to contact a certain “Mark,” reportedly the one in charge of their projects in the province
Luy said that when he failed to contact Mark, Napoles allegedly grabbed his phone and asked another staff to make the call.
But while scrolling through Luy’s phone directory for Mark’s number, Napoles discovered the number of a certain Maya. This angered Napoles who accused him of secretly dealing with Maya and stealing some PDAF contracts. At this point, Napoles called Bong Asis, her driver and bodyguard, to secure and detain Luy.
Suñas earlier identified Maya as Maya Santos, said to be a project coordinator for Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Loren Legarda.
“Ikulong na yan (Lock him up),” Luy quoted Napoles as ordering Asis.
Luy said that Napoles’ outburst was even witnessed by a certain attorney Richard Cambe.
Luy said Cambe was in Napoles’ office to submit an endorsement letter from an unnamed senator for two project beneficiaries.
Luy said he was later moved under guard to the adjacent unit 2501. He would later learn that his other phone was also ordered searched by Napoles. He said Napoles’ brother Jojo Lim ordered security guard Nap Sibayan not to let him out.
He said Napoles would later storm into the room cursing him and hitting him in the left ear. The businesswoman, he said, accused him of engaging in secret transactions with Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab.
He also said Lim threatened to harm him and his family.
“Hayup ka! Convicted criminal na ako. Papatayin kita para lang sa ate ko (You animal! I’m a convicted criminal. I will kill you for my sister),” Luy quoted Lim as saying.
Luy also said Napoles’ lawyer Alfredo Villamor appeared and asked him to reveal his alleged secret transactions. Villamor was at yesterday’s hearing, together with Napoles lead counsel Lorna Kapunan.
On the night of Dec. 20, Luy said he was transferred from his room at Discovery Suites to a house owned by Napoles at 52 Lapu Lapu St. in Magallanes Village in Makati.
Luy said the house is being used by Monsignor Josefino Ramirez, a close friend of Napoles.
Luy claimed Ramirez regularly celebrated Mass at the JLN office every first Wednesday of each month and was even receiving P150,000 monthly stipend from the businesswoman. But he said it was his first time to enter the house.
Luy said Lim told Ramirez that Napoles wanted him to stay in the house because he was being hunted down by some senators and mayors for crossing the businesswoman.
Lim also told Ramirez of Napoles’ assurance that she would be shouldering the cost of Luy’s stay at the house, which he said could last for a month.
Luy said Lim told Ramirez that Luy was not allowed to speak to anyone except to the clergy.
Luy said he hugged and begged Lim to let him go to no avail.
Luy said he was made to stay inside a room that looked like a chapel complete with an altar. There, he was made to sleep on a mattress on the floor with a pillow.
He said it was Ramirez who told him later that Napoles might be planning to kill him.
Luy said Ramirez made the revelation while he was following-up on his request in January for the priest to convince Napoles to release him.
Ramirez, according to Luy, had confided to him the businesswoman’s fear of being exposed. Luy said he also learned from Ramirez that the businesswoman was accusing him of stealing P10 million to P20 million from her. Luy said he told Ramirez that the accusation was untrue. – With Edu Punay, Aie Balagtas-See