Analysis

Where is Napoles now?

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The controversy over the alleged diversion of P10 billion in congressional pork barrel funds to a group of  dummy NGOs headed by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles took a dramatic turn on Wednesday with the issuance of warrants for her and her brother’s arrest on charges of serious illegal detention of Benhur Luy, the key whistle-blower in the corruption scandal. The offense is nonbailable.

The arrest orders acquired an overtone of urgency, as the National Bureau of Investigation agents who were to serve the warrants issued by the Makati Regional Trial Court returned empty-handed: Napoles could not be found in her condominium unit at Pacific Plaza Tower in Taguig City. There were hints that she might have taken flight out of the country.

On July 15, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima issued an “alert lookout bulletin” to the Bureau of Immigration ordering its officers to monitor Napoles’ and her brother Reynald Lim’s international travels. De Lima told reporters that she issued the order due to the “gravity” of the allegations against the siblings and “the Napoleses’ financial capacity” under investigation by the NBI, Department of Justice, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Office of the Ombudsman, and Commission on Audit. The importance of Napoles’ presence was underscored by the instruction of De Lima to immigration officers to be “discreet” in their surveillance so as not to “jeopardize” the NBI’s inquiry into Napoles’ alleged involvement in the pork barrel diversion.

The arrest warrants were issued on the basis of the complaint of the parents of Luy, a former employee of Napoles. The complaint alleged that Napoles and her brother detained Luy for three months starting last Dec. 20 until an NBI task force rescued him from an apartment owned by Napoles at Pacific Tower Plaza on March 22. After his rescue, Luy submitted an affidavit to the NBI saying that he had been working for Napoles’ JLN Corp. and that she had set up a clutch of dummy NGOs into which funds from the pork barrel of five senators and 23 congressmen were funneled by JLN for ghost projects.

In the issuance of the arrest warrants, the puzzle is why the government is now moving to detain Napoles in the midst of the still inconclusive investigations led by the DOJ. This shift in priorities has in effect diverted the agency’s task of making a case from the affidavits submitted by six disgruntled JLN employees who squealed on the fund transfers supposedly made with the complicity of certain lawmakers. Will the detention of Napoles and her brother, or their flight, strengthen or weaken the criminal case that the government is trying to build against Napoles? This is an important question being asked in some public circles.

The government has gone out of its way to reverse gears in proceeding to charge Napoles with serious illegal detention. State prosecutors filed the detention case on Aug. 13 after Prosecutor General Claro Arellano reversed the dismissal of the original case by Assistant State Prosecutor General Juan Pedro Navera. The review of the case was conducted by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva, who found probable cause to indict Napoles and her brother.

On March 23, the NBI recommended to the DOJ that the siblings be prosecuted for serious illegal detention, or violation of Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code. Arellano has told the Inquirer that when Luy blew the whistle on the operations of JLN, there was a motive for Napoles to send Luy on a “spiritual retreat” and restrain him there. According to Luy in his affidavit, prior to his detention Napoles discovered his plan to break away from her group. He also said Napoles had confronted him about what she suspected were his transactions with the Department of Agriculture.

Luy said he was then brought to Bahay ni San Jose in Makati, where he was prohibited from using any means of communication. He said he was able to see his family only twice during his detention.

In a counteraffidavit, Napoles denied all of Luy’s allegations. She also claimed that JLN was in the business of trading goods such as marine supplies and equipment and construction material, and that she had never had deals with government agencies.

The arrest warrants have shifted the focus to a peripheral issue—the alleged illegal detention of Luy. The core issue is the corruption associated with the transfer of pork barrel funds to spurious NGOs that are being investigated for being alleged conduits of public funds intended for public works and improvement projects—funds that, according to the affidavits, found their way into the bank accounts of Napoles and her group.

The warrants now appear to be a smokescreen, arousing public suspicion that the ground is being laid for the cover-up of the involvement of government officials, both in the legislative and executive branches, who are the gatekeepers of the funds.

The muzzling of information flow on this scandal is taking place as Napoles is becoming more voluble in various public forums to present her side of the controversy. Her disappearance is a matter of tremendous public concern. It has fueled such questions as: Where is she now? Has she fled the country? Is she still alive? Dead people tell no tales.

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  • klepto

    The politicians are again trying to divert the people’s attention from the issue of graft and corruption to the issue about kidnapping. The thieves in the government are trying hard to cover up their sins. Napoles is now being treated as the main culprit instead of them as being the one’s with authority and knowledge in how and where the monies are really spent. Of course Napoles should equally be held responsible as their conspirator. I would sell my soul to Satan in return for all politicians and Napoles brought to a firing squad…..after a long and painful torture

  • branlem

    I bet you one or many of those implicated senators are responsible for the sudden disappearance of the “FIXER Napolies”. I suggest inviting all those being named in Luy’s statement and put them in truth serum or even just a lie-detector test. Oh Napolies where could you be…just another Joc Joc Bolante, or another Virigilio Garcillano masters of vanishing acts…

  • naya88

    Kung diversion of issue man yan, the Filipino people, si Doronila, Inquirer investigative journalists, COA, iba pang Pinoy media, mga activists, dapat ituloy ang pag-comment-comment para hindi mawala sa front page

  • cabcog

    This is betrayal of public trust and should be punished as treason to the very ideals of public service. Imagine Filipinos working hard for every cent they could afford to bring home after the gov’t took part of such hard earned income for it to fund the supposed to be country’s development and for alleviation of the poverty of many Filipinos.

    I for a fact spend 12 hours working in an office where I try to make a difference and make every second count for the benefit of my employer. The gov’t take 1/3 of such income which I believe is unfair and it is disheartening that what all politicians and people in gov’t do is to think of ways to steal from people’s money and get away with it. They project themselves as heroes and protector of the interest of the poor but behind it all, they are the one’s who have stolen the very future of the millions of poor children who cannot go to school and who eat less than 3 times a day.

    I voted for Pnoy but if he could not deliver his promise of a “matuwid na daan”, he should be a shame of himself and to the very ideals of his parents. He will be a complete disappoint to many of us who dreamed that he would start a country free of corruption and poverty. He should send to jail the senators, congressmen, secretaries and gov’t officials who have betrayed the Filipinos and stolen billions from us taxpayers. May God bless our country and punish those who have stolen from our countrymen.

  • Greg Campomanes

    Hindi naman kinidnap daw. Nag-retreat lang ng matagal kasama yun paboriotng pari ni Napoles. Hindi gobyerno lang ang nabibili. Pari ba puede din bilhin?

    • diamond_digger

      Greg, haven’t you reading the news the past couple of years? If you did, you wouldn’t have asked if priests could be bought since a number of bishops (repeat, bishops) hugged the headlines for very immoral and scandalous conducts involving peoples money facilitated to them by the previous administration. You can surely find out in the internet about those ‘huge, fat envelopes’ making the rounds whenever the CBCP made its plenum or meetings – not to mention the Pajeros and others that those shameless bishops have asked and received from GMA.

  • Noel

    ased on a

    Armando Doronila questions the arrest warrant to Napoles based on a charge that is not related to the pork barrel scam. What he does not appreciate is that the arrest warrant is the easier to process because the case is complete: there is a victim, there is the rescue, there is a complaint, etc. There is clear and probable cause.
    Whereas in the case of the pork barrel scam, it will still take some time and many more documents and hearings to prove probable cause. In other words, strike now with he more palpable case, rather than wait for the Ombudsman to get its act together based on the COA special audit of the pork barrel scam.
    Nakawala pa nga, eh!

    • dukaponte

      Hindi ko rin makuha ang ibig sabihin ni Doronila. Parang ayaw niya mahuli si Napoles. Tama ka na mas madali makulong si Napoles sa kasong iyon dahil nandoon na sa court. Samantalang kung sa PDAF ay nasa investigation stage pa.

  • Engr. Chatto

    Amando Doronilla cant you get the point the govt. still gathering the all the evidence to have a tight case againts this vultures… now as this vultures will surely find ways to scape to other nation while the investigation is stilll going on….. a possibility that they can travel is big coz they have no case yet filed to them… So the Justice Dept. see this loopholes .So to make sure that they are here when the case is ready… a bailable case was built for them to be properly monitored if captured but as we can see it they even evade this not so serious case how much more for the bigger one where in no bail will be given, like money laundering,malversation of public funds and graft and corruption practices which is a major crimes.. Cant you see the point dont misguide readers by saying that the govt. is filing a weak case because the stronger one still coming soon… get it..

    • Littlebimby

      Agree…Lorna Kapunan is playing hawk to see the loopholes that can weaken the case…although as it is now, it looks like Kapunan’s eyes are getting to be gorged out of its sockets to find any loopholes or ways to win an acquittal…the evidences so far are pretty strong corroborated by COA findings…i guess a little patience is needed to make the cases airtight and define clearly the trails that will lead to the ultimate crooks…In the meantime Napoles should be protected and charged accordingly!

  • Littlebimby

    For the crooks,… she’s better dead….I hope she’s still alive so she can shed light on this anomaly and name who are the thieves without conscience who plundered the money of the people!!!!

  • diamond_digger

    FLASH REPORT!!!! Janet Napoles was sighted in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur. She is welcomed and even cuddled by the people there as a worthy replacement of ‘LOLONG’, the largest crocodile in captivity in the world but who died a few months back. The people there surmised that Janet is the mother of Lolong and would ask for DNA testing,

  • RomyLitz

    She is either dead or still alive if she paid huge amount to kuratong baleleng. She must be in Ozamis. There are hundreds of congressmen , military generals, mayors and a handful of senators who want her dead than alive! Only Jalosjos of Dakak or Parojinog of Ozamis can keep her alive if of course she parts with her billions.

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