Kapunan: Witness wasn't Napoles' employee
MANILA, Philippines – She wasn't even an employee, so how would she know?
On the second day of the hearing for Janet Lim Napoles' motion for bail, Merlina Suñas, a former employee of Napoles' JLN Corp, told a Makati court that Napoles wanted Benhur Luy detained.
But Lorna Kapunan, Napoles' lawyer, said Suñas was not even an employee of Janet Napoles, based on a labor department decision.
Kapunan also hit the witness' "growing" and "inconsistent" testimony, saying Suñas was adding details to her sworn statements and later, during the defense's cross-examination.
In a joint sworn statement with Benhur Luy, Merlina Suñas, Gertrudes Luy, and Annabelle Luy-Reario, Suñas said she headed and managed one of Napoles' non-governmental organizations. She also helped "in the preparation of documents needed in the operations of JLN Corp, Jo-Chris Trading," among other groups.
Napoles faces serious illegal detention charges along with brother Reynald Lim for allegedly detaining Luy for 3 months. The Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 is currently hearing Napoles' motion for bail.
Napoles is the alleged mastermind of the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam. She also faces plunder charges along with several government officials.
December 19 meeting
On December 19, Suñas said, Napoles called for a meeting at the JLN Corp office in Discovery Suites. Napoles asked Luy to call a contact, but the line was busy.
Napoles then started scrolling through Luy's messages. It was then that hell broke loose — Napoles read messages to and from a certain "Ma'am Maya," allegedly a project coordinator for several Philippine senators — Loren Legarda and Bongbong Marcos, said Suñas.
"Pati si Maya pala andito," Napoles allegedly said. An angry "Madame Jenny" called Maya and started cursing. (Even Maya is here!)
Suñas said Napoles was upset because she realized why her income from PDAF was cut down. "Meron palang hidden transaction si Benhur at ibang chief-of-staff ng mga senador," Napoles allegedly said. (Benhur has hidden transactions with some senators' chiefs-of-staff.)
Later, she turned her anger towards Luy.
"Benhur, ikaw na kamag-anak ko, ikaw ang nag-ahas, ikaw ang nag-traydor sa akin," said Napoles. Luy tried explaining his side, but Suñas said Napoles wasn't listening. (Benhur, you're my relative but you betrayed me.)
Napoles also called a certain "Atty Asoy," through whom she found out that Luy asked for a loan.
An angry Napoles turned to several employees in the room — Suñas, Luy, and Evelyn de Leon — and said "Ikulong na yan!" referring to Luy. (Put him in jail!)
Nap Sibayan, a JLN Corp security guard watched over and later transferred Luy to an adjacent office in Discovery Suites. Lim was also there when Luy was brought to a separate room.
More than P800k
Napoles, Suñas said, then ordered her to go over Luy's filing cabinet and bag. They took his things, car keys, and wallet. Two sets of car keys were handed over to Reynald Lim and John Lim, while P40,000 in cash from Luy was taken to Napoles' office.
Marina Sula, another JLN employee-turned-whistleblower, checked Luy's Metrobank account upon Napoles' orders. They discovered that Luy had more than P800,000 in his account. The money was moved to JLN's account.
When Suñas left her office at around 8 pm that day, Luy was still inside the room, she said. The next time Suñas saw Luy was around late March in 2013, during Holy Week, she added.
But she later said she only spoke and saw Luy on April 2, 2013 at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) office. It was at the NBI where Benhur told Suñas that he was detained by Napoles and Lim, said Suñas.
Last week, another witness, Mariaflor Villanueva, said she also heard Napoles order Luy detained on the same date.
Villanueva said Luy was being scolded by his boss. "Ikuha 'nyo nga ako ng isang kuwarto, 'yung hindi siya makatakas kasi imbestigahan ko siya," Napoles said. (Get me a room where he can't escape from because I need to investigate him.)
The same day last week, the prosecution presented NBI agent Dante Berou, who was part of the team that "rescued" Luy from Pacific Plaza Towers.
The prosecution will be presenting 8 witnesses for the bail hearing — Suñas is only the third. They also plan on presenting Annabelle Luy, Benhur's sister. Benhur himself is also expected to be called as a witness. The defense, meanwhile, said they would present 17 witnesses but Prosecutor Chris Garvida said they were told the number was cut down to 4.
More hearings are scheduled on October 7 at 2 pm, October 14 at 2 pm, and October 25 at 9 am and 2 pm.
Napoles is currently detained at Fort Sto Domingo in Sta Rosa, Laguna. Lim is still at-large. -Rappler.com