Bongbong, Lauren linked to P10-B scam

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MANILA – Senators Loren Legarda and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. have been dragged into the probe of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against a businesswoman who reportedly defrauded the government of billions of pesos by establishing ghost projects allegedly funded by pork barrel.

 

The names of Legarda and Marcos appeared in the affidavit of Merlina Pablo Sunas – one of the six supposed whistle-blowers in the scam that implicated Janet Lim Napoles of JLN Group of Companies – submitted to the NBI.

Sunas, Napoles’ trusted employee of 12 years whom she appointed president of the allegedly bogus non-government organization People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc. (POPDFI), claimed that a certain “Ma’am Maya” served as JLN’s “coordinator for Senators Legarda and Marcos.”

Legarda and Marcos yesterday expressed disbelief over their alleged involvement in the scam.

“I don’t know anything about it. My God,” Legarda told The STAR.

She said she was clueless about how her name cropped up in the NBI investigation and cannot think of any motive behind the story.

She also called for an impartial probe on the allegation.

“I stand by the transparent and wise utilization of my PDAF in my one town, one classroom project, rural livelihood, culture and education health services,” Legarda said, referring to the Priority Development Assistance Fund.

Marcos, on the other hand, said he never had dealings with Napoles.

“I don’t know Ms. Napoles. I have never spoken to her or even met her and so I had no personal dealings with her,” Marcos said in a text message.

Sunas did not specify whether the offices of the two senators were aware of the allegedly fraudulent transactions by JLN.

She told investigators it was a concealed deal with the coordinator by Benhur Luy, Napoles’ personal assistant who was rescued by agents last March 22, that angered the businesswoman and led to the filing of kidnapping charges.

Sunas said Napoles discovered that “the reason why the amount of PDAF given to her by a certain senator was small because Benhur had hidden transactions.”

Napoles discovered Luy’s hidden transactions during a meeting on Dec. 19, 2012 at their office in Discovery Center in Ortigas, Pasig City.

Sunas claimed that Napoles put up their foundations to receive government funds that were allegedly remitted to her many bank accounts.

For instance, she alleged that their bogus NGOs benefited from the P900-million Malampaya Fund but “no deliveries of supplies were ever made and that fake liquidation papers were submitted by the implementing agencies.” The same modus was applied in the P728-million Fertilizer Fund.

Luy, Sunas and another whistleblower further alleged that JLN forged signatures of “fictitious individuals” in organizing POPDFI and other NGOs, including Kaupdanan Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Social Foundation, Pangkabuhayan Foundation and Masaganang Ani Foundation, for this racket.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the NBI probe on the alleged scam is an offshoot of Luy’s kidnapping charges against Napoles that was already dismissed by the investigating prosecutor.

She also said records of earlier congressional inquiries into the fertilizer fund scam were already obtained by the NBI for review. But she refused to give more details.

“Given the gravity of the allegations, we’re keeping such investigation under wraps until NBI completes its evidence gathering and evaluation,” De Lima said.

Asked whether the NBI would summon lawmakers and officials mentioned in affidavits of witnesses, De Lima said it would still depend on results of the investigators’ evaluation of evidence.

De Lima added that she would also study the possible issuance of lookout bulletin order against Napoles and her brother, Reynald Lim, who was also implicated in the scam. The Philippine Star