Plunder trial of Napoles, Reyes begins
Janet Lim Napoles arrives at the Senate for the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the alleged P10 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, which reportedly involves her group and several legislators. (MNS photo)
MANILA (Mabuhay) – The plunder trial of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles and Gigi Reyes began Wednesday at the Sandiganbayan, with Napoles’ property custodian first to testify.
The two women’s plunder case on their alleged involvement in Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s alleged P172 million kickbacks is the first pork barrel case to move on to the trial phase since the scandal broke out in 2013.
Marina Sula, property custodian of Janet Lim Napoles Corporation who became president of Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (MAMFI), was the first witness to testify in the trial.
In Wednesday’s hearing, Sula narrated how she helped Napoles come up with names of fake non-government organizations (NGOs) used in funneling money from lawmakers’ pork barrel.
She said Napoles instructed her and another employee, Merlina Sunas, to produce a list of possible names of NGOs.
She claimed to have registered at least 20 fake NGOs at the Securities and Exchanges Commission, and opened bank accounts for each organization.
During the direct examination, Sula identified the incorporators of the NGOs involved in Enrile’s case as house helpers and drivers of Napoles, while two are relatives of Sunas who had no knowledge that they would be registered as NGO officials.
It was also mentioned in the hearing that Napoles had at least three helpers in each of her six units in Pacific Plaza, her 4 units in South Garden, and her 3 houses in Alabang village.
Sula will continue her testimony in Thursday’s hearing.
Meanwhile, Napoles questioned the court’s schedule of her trials, asking why she needs to appear in every hearing which was set twice a week, from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Napoles’ lawyer Atty. Stephen David said Napoles is wondering why the court seems eager to expedite the trial, compared to other cases which are usually heard once a week, or even less. (MNS)