Sunday, August 18, 2013
Her name is Janet Lim-Napoles. She is the sleuth businesswoman embroiled in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), a.k.a, Pork Barrel fund of the Philippine government.
How does the PDAF work?
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) allocates P200M a year for each senator and P70M a year for each congressman in what is known as the "pork barrel fund". How did it get the name "pork barrel"? The process for requesting for the PDAF allocation to the congressman or senator is actually a matter of politics. The senator or congressman makes a request for the release of his/her allocation with a project list accompanying that request. The projects are based on a menu list from the annual budget given to the DBM before the start of the following fiscal year. The chair of the committee from either the Senate or the House of Representatives then endorses it to the Senate President or the Speaker of the House, and the request is forwarded to the DBM. As long as the budget is in the menu list of the budget law, the DBM then releases the funds to the implementing agency identified by the lawmaker. The latter is then given a copy of the release of funds document called the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO).
In reality, the lawmaker is not supposed to interfere in how the project is implemented. COA chief Grace Pulido-Tan reveals that unfortunately, that's not what happens. After the implementing agencies have received the PDAF money, these agencies just turn around and transfer the money released to the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) identified by the lawmakers. The transfer is presumably covered by a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed by the lawmaker, the implementing agencies and the chosen NGOs. When the auditors conduct a post-project implementation audit, the funds have already been misused.
And so goes the story of how pork barrel funds have been widely criticized because the people whom the program was created initially for benefit had benefitted the largesse of the lawmakers' family and relatives instead. It is the reason why, in spite of the meager pay of a congressman or senator, they continuously run for office declaring to the Filipino their dedication in the name of public service. And we all wonder how, in the X number of years with that meager pay, they can afford to buy luxury cars, live in mansions and send their children to the most expensive schools in the world.
Who is Janet Lim-Napoles and how did she strike it rich? What was her connection in the the PDAF and her current amassed wealth? It is estimated that she had amassed P10B (approximately $250,000,000.00) in less than 10 years. She owns 28 houses (and the joke is that it includes the lower and upper houses of the Philippine government) and a fleet of luxury cars.
Embroiled in one of the largest money laundering schemes, is a woman who had skills at manipulating and conniving lawmakers into putting our hard earned taxes to enrich themselves.
According to rappler.com, Napoles has properties worth over $10M in the United States - most of which are being spent on the lavish lifestyle of her daughter Jeane who is currently unemployed and is supposedly a fashion designer (in her dreams). The video of the 21st birthday of Jeane Napoles in a boutique hotel in Beverly Hills drew the ire of the Filipino people in the Philippines because the money apparently being used to sustain her rubbing elbows with the rich and famous are stolen money meant for the poor people in the Philippines.
In Jeane's blog, which she recently shut down after the Inquirer broke out with the news on how their family obtained the money she apparently spends in the United States, Jeane depicts her life as that of a princess whose families have oodles of cash to sustain her lavish choice of clothes and living. She lives in the Ritz Carlton in Los Angeles during her college years. Friends of Jeane also were not surprised on the recent revelation, noting that she began to flaunt opulence after 2005.
A nobody. That's who Janet Napoles is. Married to an ex-army Major Jaime Napoles, Janet's scheming ways began in the military. In 2001, Napoles and her husband, were among 18 personnel of the Navy Marine Corps and civilians, charged by the Office of Ombudsman in the Sandiganbayan with graft and malversation in connection with the acquisition of substandard Kevlar helmets worth P3.8 million. Not surprising is the fact that the Euro-Generals and comptroller Gen. Garcia were also linked to several financial indiscretions and criminal acts in the Philippines. You wonder how these military officials in our country are able to afford the lifestyles of the Sys and Gokongweis when they make only a pittance serving the government and the military. The complexity of how money is shuffled from one unit to another is amazingly dizzying and the audit trails remain cold. One cannot help but recognize the fact that the operations for these are deeply and intricately webbed with people in high places in the government.
In the Philippines, the Napoles "are known to reside in houses and condomiums in at least 7 posh locations. The National Bureau of Investigation has also released a list of 30 high-end vehicles registered under the Napoleses.
If we go by the official filings of her registered businesses, however, Napoles doesn’t have the means to acquire and maintain any of these.
The net profits they last reported (for 2011 and 2012) to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) totaled less than P1 million – P577,807.47 to be exact.
Rappler checked with the SEC businesses registered under the names of Napoles family members.
We found a total of 24 companies incorporated by one or all of the following: spouses Janet Lim-Napoles and Jaime Napoles, and their children Jo-Christine and James Christopher.
12 of these are still operational, at least on paper, and only 3 have complied with the SEC requirement of filing annual Financial Statements (FS):
RLG Solutions Corp, formed on Feb 15, 2012, and deals with “security systems and IT”
JCLN Global Properties Dev’t Corp, formed on June 3, 2005, and which is engaged in “real estate”
JLN Corp formed on April 27, 1999, and which deals with “marine supplies and equipment”
In its FS for 2012, RLG Solutions declared zero revenue and losses of P383,340.94.
JCLN Global Properties’ last FS was for 2012, when it declared a gross income of P4.3 million and a net income of P544,699.30.
From 2006 to 2012, it declared annual net incomes of between P69,839.99 and P544,699.30.
On the other hand, JLN Corp last filed an FS for 2011, where it declared a gross income of P4.03 million and net income of P33,108.17.
From 2004 to 2011, JLN Corp – supposedly the flagship company of the Napoleses – declared annual net incomes of between P21,085.82 and P100,395.48.
It is during these years when the Napoles family purchased expensive properties in California. They bought 3 properties worth P415.1 million between 2006 to 2007, and acquired an apartment worth P80 million sometime in 2010.
The 24 companies were formed over the last 16 years – from 1997 to as recent as June and July 2013. They are into restaurants, retail, advertising and public relations, printing, tours and travels, among others.
The Napoles and Revilla sons are business partners.
Among these companies, Wingold International Trading Corp was the first to be established in 1997, while Socal Holdings was the latest to be formed only in July 2013.
People who have worked for, or dealt with, Napoles over the years say she started as a vendor, selling food and school supplies on a pedicab in Laguna in the 1990s, before she became a “struggling supplier” in the military.
Based on Rappler’s interviews with sources, as well as other news reports, the improvement in the Napoleses’ lifestyle became very evident – drastic, some described it – around 2003.
Napoles explained this was made possible by their coal mining business in Indonesia.
Among the registered businesses in the Philippines, only two have something to do with mining and coal trading, but there is no way they could have made the family wealthy.
Asia Star Power Resources Corp, which is engaged in "coal import/export," was formed on April 8, 2011 but was one of the companies that filed an Affidavit of Nonoperation with SEC in 2012.
The other company, which should be directly engaged in "mine and quarry operations" – Sur Mine Corp – was formed less than two months ago, on June 20, 2013. This is the company where former Surigao del Sur congressman and House defense committee chair Prospero Pichay is a co-owner.
Some of the companies registered over the last 16 years share the same incorporators:
Magdalena Lim (Janet's mother) - 5 companies
Gertrudes Luy (former nanny of Jeane Napoles; mother of whistle blower Benhur Luy) - 5 companies
Jo-Christine Napoles (Janet's daughter) - 3 companies
Annabelle Luy (Gertrudes Luy's daughter) - 3 companies
James Christopher Napoles (Janet's son) - 2 companies
Marciano G. Delson (Prefect of Student Affairs, San Beda College of Law) - 3 companies
Nathaniel L. Tan (Sta. Ignacia, Tarlac councilor) - 3 companies
Anthony P. Dequina (former Cotabato representative) - 2 companies
Mia Legacion - 2 companies
A number of the companies have the same offices:
11 companies are registered at the 25th floor of Discovery Suite building in Ortigas, Pasig City
3 companies are registered at Suite 505 of Dona Generosa building in Pasay City
2 companies are registered at Unit 402 of L.V. Locsin building in Makati City."
The Catholic Church has also been the recipient of some of the largesse of pork barrel funds and this has made some secular societies cringe at the way the funds have been acquired. With the government officials and military deeply embroiled in the thick of this scandal, one cannot help but wonder what the government is doing to apprehend and provide justice to every Juan de la Cruz. While BIR chief Kim Henares is running after the doctors and lawyers who do not pay their taxes correctly, people like Janet Napoles are able to afford a battery of lawyers who can keep her from going to jail. Unlike the average Juan who is accused of beating the red light or pocketing some pieces of bread to feed their hungry children, people like Napoles are unfortunately more fortunate of getting their day in court. In the meantime, all that money flying around have been spread too thin for any of us to recover.
It is sad that the Filipinos will never learn their lessons. Marcos in the years of his reign practically stole from the coffers of the government. He had US President Ronald Reagan as an ally, plucking him from the bastion of Malacanan Palace to exile in Honolulu. People like Chad Osorio speaks his mind in defending Janet Napoles by saying:
"If you've got it, flaunt it.
Let’s start with a question: why can't Jeane Napoles take pictures of the stuff she owns? Just because some people are offended that they can't afford it? It's not her fault that poor people are poor. It may have been done in bad taste, but it was never a crime to be proud of what you have.
The social media networks are specifically designed so that people can connect, and yes, “sell” themselves to others so that their social value increases.
And how do we do that? By asserting the social influence, high level of attractiveness and material wealth that we have. That way, people will either love us, respect us or fear us. It's a tool for attaining social power, and Jeane did precisely that.
I initially address the issue of her social networking audience. The readers of Jeane’s blog, in the first place, are her friends from the A community. I've never heard of her and her luxurious ways (and I'm pretty sure neither have you) until this scandal blew up. I doubt that she intended poor people to read it in the first place. They don't even know who Lacroix or St Laurent is, and they do not understand the social value of a US$3,000 designer bag one uses for everyday wear.
These posts were specifically targeted towards her own clique, which she intends to rule over as Queen Bee. It's not an in-your-face, I-have-this-you-don't statement to the rest of Filipinos."
It's Filipinos like him who remain apathetic to the greater picture of graft and corruption in his native land that paint this whole picture as ugly. While the Napoles will still have to have their day in court, the judicial system in our country is slow to anger and the people, amnesic to the pain of corruption.
We see the filth in our own backyard and we don't even have the temerity to clean it up. Our neighbors see the filth and stink and they wonder, why in God's name do we just let it be?
It's not how the filthy rich spend their money that matters here. It's how we deal with this scandal as a nation that makes this filth really stink.
Note: THE BOLD LETTERS WERE FROM THE FOLLOWING SOURCES:
Posted by Kid at heart at 6:54 PM