Ever since the Pork Barrel Scam exploded, the name Janet Lim Napoles has always been associated with thievery, deceit and fraud. It’s Ma’am Janet against the People of the Philippines. We see her as the mastermind of a multi-billion con. However,in her latest affidavit, she stated that she is the victim in this whole ordeal and that the real perpetrators are the politicians she has made business with. The initial reaction of Filipinos is probably within the context of “Ang kapal ng mukha mo!” (You’re shameless!). Who wouldn’t react that way after learning that she kept the people’s money in her bathtub, hosted lavish parties and enjoyed a super luxurious life while the most of us can’t even afford to eat three times a day? But that’s not the worst thing you’ll read from her affidavit. There are far worse claims that will make the creases on your forehead permanent.
According to her affidavit obtained by the Senate blue ribbon committee on May 26, she stated that she is also a victim of a system that she thought to be just. “Ako ay naging biktima ng isang maling sistema sa ating lipunan na akala ko noon ay tama at naaayon sa batas, dahil ito ay naging kalakaran na sa mahabang panahon,” She also said that the most guilty are the lawmakers who transacted with her through all those years and because they were government officials, she thought that those kind of deals are normal and allowed. It also hurts her to be called the mastermind and the Queen of the Pork Barrel Scam.That statement reeks of another attempt to gain sympathy which she will never get from the masses. The more she tries to wash her hands free of sins, the more it makes us angry.
But before we all get heart attacks, let’s explore how the Queen of the Pork Barrel Scam came to be and how she climbed her way to the top of the criminal food chain:
“Bata pa lamang ako ay natuto na ‘kong maghanap-buhay. Sa biyaya ng Diyos, sa aking tiyaga, sipag at pawis, at sa tulong ng mga taong nakilala ko, ito ay aking napalago hanggang sa aking narating ngayon,”Napoles said in her signed extended affidavit obtained by The Blue Ribbon committee last May 26.
Napoles didn’t finish high school but she did not let it hinder her chances of achieving great things when it comes to business. (Insert a very dramatic inspirational song here) She also said that her late mother, Magdalena Lim served as her inspiration and fueled her drive to work hard and help others. Her remains lay at The Heritage Park, in a mausoleum reported to be worth PhP 30 Million. Wherever Mrs. Magdalena Lim is right now, I’m sure she’s looking down on her daughter and shaking her head in disappointment.
Entering small business ventures is where Napoles started. She specialized in Sales before she bought her first company. Philippines of Nutrigrowth, a manufacturer of liquid foliar fertilizers is one of her first business ventures followed by Dragon 1.5 Mega Philippines years later after the first one collapsed.
As Napoles looked for ways to expand her fertilizer business, she was introduced to Batanes Rep. Florencio “Butch” Abad, now Budget secretary, circa 2000 and the rest is history. Abad offered her Php 10 Million for a livelihood budget and asked her if she has an NGO (Non-Government Organization), when she said no, Abad allegedly told her that he will take care of it. Thus, the project got implemented under the name Batanes Electric Cooperative based in Basco town. “That is when I started to transact using the PDAF,” Napoles said, referring to lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund allocation.
Though questioning why the government implementing agencies do not grant projects to companies, but only to foundations, she continued doing business with NGOs that are controlled by officials who are offering them for “rent”. She feared that the NGOs for rent would be deemed fake so she associated herself with legitimate NGOs. She did not say whether she established a fake NGO herself even though she is allegedly the founder of over 70 fake NGOs involved in the PDAF scam.
The money came pouring in when representatives of lawmakers began offering her deals in exchange for a guaranteed amount of commission. These representatives include the state witnesses Ruby Tuason and former Agrarian Reform Assistant Secretary Catherine May Santos, who Napoles said would demand 15 % for themselves and 40% in kickbacks from the requesting lawmakers.
In her previous affidavits, Napoles claimed that she does not have the capacity to run this multi-billion scam without some help because she is “just a simple business woman” with a humble background. She also said that she does not have the power to command the release of any documents from the Department of Budget and Management. After the release of the infamous ‘Napolist’ (or as I like to call it,‘The Swindler’s List’), where over 100 congressmen and senators are listed, she fears that they might harm her family for speaking the truth.
“Hindi po ako ang ‘mastermind’ ng pork barrel [scam], sapagkat hindi ako ang nagpasimula nito at matagal na ang ganitong kalakaran o sistema,”Napoles boldly stated in her extended affidavit.
As of now, we still don’t know who’s telling the truth because even the Palace says that Napoles’ statements are not reliable. But since she’s the closest thing we got to finding out the truth, we must take her statements seriously and look into every detail of it. Now that we know how it all began, we might get close to knowing how it ends. Hopefully, with all the perpetrators in jail and our money recovered.