Janet Napoles declares Butch Abad taught her how to set up foundations
(Updated 9:06 a.m., May 14) Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, who has offered to become a state witness in the plunder case, claimed in her version of events submitted to the Senate on Tuesday that it was Budget Secretary Butch Abad who taught her how to form foundations.
In an unsigned document supposedly obtained by former Senator Panfilo Lacson from Napoles' relatives, the controversial trader said she first met Abad in 2000. At the time, Abad was representing Batanes' lone district in the House of Representatives.
"Abad was lent by JLN [Janet Lim-Napoles] money which was returned with interest. When JLN asked how the money earned, she was introduced to foundations. JLN got curious and eventually JLN was taught how to form foundations," Napoles said in the document. In an interview with GMA News, Abad denied the accusation and said he has never dealt with Napoles. He said his pork barrel went to projects in his home province of Batanes.
"Dapat talaga mag-imbestiga ang Department of Justice at ang Ombudsman, mas gusto ko nga yun ... mas mabuti na maagang maliwanagan ang publiko sa katotohanan," he said. Napoles is accused of orchestrating an elaborate scheme that funneled Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) money into ghost projects and NGOs, and giving kickbacks to legislators in return for their involvement in the scam. She has submitted an affidavit to Justice Sec. Leila de Lima and has offered to become a state witness in a plunder case at the Ombudsman, which has so far indicted three senators.
In an earlier statement, Abad maintained that he has never dealt with Napoles in any capacity. He also said attempts to link him to the pork scam are part of efforts to bring down the Aquino administration. Abad was also named in Lacson's copy, one of three such lists according to President Aquino, of alleged pork barrel scam conspirators supposedly prepared by Napoles.
In late April, a story published by the opposition Daily Tribune quoted an unnamed source as saying that Napoles had supposedly pointed to Abad as the real brains behind the scheme. In disputing the allegation, Abad said: "These fresh allegations that I ‘tutored’ Janet Lim-Napoles in designing the PDAF scam are simply not true. I have never dealt with Janet Lim-Napoles, much less acted as a mentor in executing her alleged schemes."
On Tuesday, Malacañang said President Beningo Aquino III still trusts Abad in the face of allegations linking the Budget chief to the pork scam.
'Legitimate, righteous business'
In the unsigned affidavit, Napoles said she "bought" an existing foundation, the Philippine Social Development Foundation Incorporated, using the knowledge she supposedly obtained from Abad. Later, she set up several other foundations "to enter into agreements" with politicians. Napoles claimed that she gave 40- to 50-percent commissions to certain senators and congressmen in exchange for their PDAF allocation. "There were times I made advances, rebates, commissions to lawmakers. For example, if there is a P5-million project, upon listing, the agreement will entail giving the whole 50-percent commissions or a mere portion of it," Napoles said in her draft affidavit. She also said that she believed her transactions with lawmakers were "legitimate and righteous." "I am only a simple person who wanted to earn for my family... Had I known that giving commissions is illegal, I would not have done such thing," Napoles said. "I did not benefit from the transactions alone. In fact, I have formed foundations to help others and do charity works," she added.
Silent on her kickbacks
While Napoles detailed in her draft affidavit how much government officials supposedly received as commissions from the scam, she did not mention how much she earned from it herself. She also claimed that different "agents," including government witness Ruby Tuason and actor Mat Ranillo III, started negotiations with lawmakers, and not herself.
Napoles further said that these "agents" were the ones who followed up pork barrel transactions with senators and House members. The alleged pork barrel scam mastermind also claimed that in the years when she transacted with lawmakers, the Commission on Audit's guidelines on foundations were "not that clear." She added that she made sure that her projects were "delivering the goods to the people" and that "everything is within the acceptable standards."