"In the beginning, we did not know if we could do it, but here we are now. We were guided by God."
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima's remarks followed a Thanksgiving Mass before the filing of charges of plunder, malversation, bribery, graft and corrupt practices in the Office of the Ombudsman against Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains behind a P10-billion racket involving congressional pork barrel funds, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada and 34 other people.
"This is something historic," she told reporters at the headquarters of the National Bureau of Investigation after the Mass attended by former employees of Napoles, who revealed the alleged schemes of the businesswoman to channel allocations from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and other state funds into ghost projects through dummy nongovernment organisations.
De Lima called the whistle-blowers and their lawyer, Levito Baligod, "our heroes today."
"We couldn't have done it without you," she said. "We hope we will remain strong."
An executive summary of the NBI complaint filed in the Office of the Ombudsman said the three senators received a total of P581,140,750 (S$ 16,900,000) in kickbacks for allowing Napoles to use their pork barrel allocations meant to ease poverty in the countryside and the plight of storm victims.
According to the NBI, Enrile received P172,834,500 as his cut in the proceeds of ghost projects; Revilla, P224,512,500; and Estrada, P183,793,750.
Two former members of the House of Representatives, according to the NBI, likewise received kickbacks and would be charged with plunder as well: Rizalina Seachon-Lanete, P108,405,000; Edgar Valdez, P56,087,500.