Witness claims she saw payoffs to lawmakers
A ninth witness in the 10-billion peso (S$293 million) pork barrel scam told the Inquirer Thursday she was present when Janet Lim-Napoles met Philippine lawmakers in high-end restaurants, where she handed them cash, and kept a "red book" of such transactions.
This latest witness, who declined to be named in public in the meantime, is now with the National Bureau of Investigation, which has been looking into allegations that Napoles turned allocations from the Priority Development Assistance Fund of senators and congressmen into kickbacks of up to 60 per cent.
Six of the whistle-blowers led by Merlina Sunas were present Thursday during the Inquirer's interview of the ninth whistleblower. They corroborated the new whistle-blower's testimony.
"It was my job to go with her anywhere she went, so I got to see who she met and witnessed money handed to them," said the 35-year-old woman who claimed to have worked as a close aide of Napoles, the fugitive head of the JLN group of companies, from 2009 to 2011. The eyewitness now works as a casual employee for a government agency.
The new witness also said that Napoles kept a red book that contained the names and amounts received by lawmakers who had given her access to their pork barrel funds, which were then coursed through dummy nongovernment organisations (NGOs) and ghost projects.
Levito Baligod, lawyer of the whistleblowers, asked the Inquirer not to name the lawmakers pending completion of this witness' sworn statement. Earlier statements by the accusers said five senators and 23 congressmen were involved in the scam.
Benhur Luy, 31, a cousin and former Napoles employee, has accused the businesswoman of using pork barrel funds in a 10-billion peso racket over the past 10 years.