Journalists vs Inquirer in pork barrel controversy
MANILA, Philippines – Journalists, allegedly tagged by pork barrel scam principal whistleblower Benhur Luy as recipients of cash payments from Janet Lim-Napoles, denied on Sunday, May 18, their involvement in any anomaly and criticized a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI).
According to the broadsheet's report, a list of Luy's accounting entries showed several prominent journalists and media personalities were given cash gifts from Napoles, the alleged mastermind of a Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam that funneled billions of pesos to bogus non-governmental organizations.
The report said these news personalities received the following amounts anytime between 2004 and 2008:
- Korina Sanchez of ABS-CBN, P50,000
- Mike Enriquez of GMA, P50,000
- Deo Macalma of DZRH, P715,000
- Ray Pacheco, P715,000
- Luchi Cruz-Valdes of TV5, and formerly of the Probe Team and ABS-CBN
- Unnamed TV and radio personality, P2 million
- Erwin Tulfo of TV5, P245,535
- Carmelo del Prado Magdurulang, P245,535
- Bon Vivar, P10,000
As of this writing, several of the journalists and media personalities identified – Cruz-Valdes, Enriquez, and Sanchez – have issued statements to deny the allegations.
The PDI report said a certain Mon Arroyo, a former television director, would act as a conduit for the media personalities. Arroyo allegedly received almost P500 million, as did the media consultant of senator Vicente Sotto III, Jen Corpuz, who is alleged to have received P1,180,000.
Explaining how it got wind of the information, the Inquirer said it was “culled from a copy of Luy’s hard disk drive given by his parents in the presence of his former lawyer, Levito Baligod, on April 27, 2013.” Luy's parents came over to the paper's offices to seek help for their son who was believed to have been held by Napoles against his will.
But in an interview on Bandila late Thursday night (May 15), Baligod said Luy’s family gave the Inquirer copies of Luy’s files, but not a list of officials and other personalities who allegedly benefitted from the scam. He said that all that Luy had was a database of financial transaction records amounting to 2,700 pages and spanning 2004 to 2010. Luy, through his counsel, has since said the sharing of information was unauthorized.
How and from whom exactly the Inquirer got its supposed list remains unclear. It is said to contain names that do not appear in at least 3 other lists that have been circulating – from Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson, the Napoles list said to have been shared with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, jueteng whistleblower Sandra Cam's list, and Luy's own records.
Cruz-Valdes, head of TV5’s news and public affairs department, denied receiving any payment or gift from Napoles and her associates. In a statement published on InterAkyson.com, Cruz-Valdes denied any knowledge of the supposed “representation expense” allegedly disbursed to Mon Arroyo on her behalf. She said that in the period cited (2004-2008), she was no longer a part of the Probe Team. Cruz-Valdes also chastised the Inquirer for the “reckless inclusion” of her name in the Luy list, which, she said, is “largely hearsay” and has no legal basis.
Enriquez, a radio and TV news anchor for GMA, also denied “in the strongest of terms” receiving gifts from Napoles. In a statement issued on Sunday, May 18, Enriquez said he adheres strictly to the GMA code of ethics, and to the values of “hard and honest work.”
Sanchez, the wife of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, also denied receiving any money from Arroyo. She said she only met Napoles in 2013 when she was assigned to do an interview with her. "I am dismayed that an unsubstantiated lie such as this should be given as much attention. Because how do you prove a negative?" asked the ABS-CBN news anchor. – Rappler.com