Court orders banks to produce PDAF scam witnesses' records
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division granted on Thursday, September 4, the request of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles to subpoena the bank accounts of state witnesses Benhur Luy, Marina Sula, and Merlina Suñas.
The subpoena orders the United Coconut Planters Bank, Banco De Oro Unibank Incorporated, Metrobank, Land Bank of the Philippines, Philippine Savings Bank, Bank of the Philippine Islands, and Citibank to produce bank records of the witnesses in court.
The order came almost a week after the anti-graft court’s 1st division denied a similar petition filed by Napoles.
Napoles is a co-accused in the plunder and graft cases against 3 senators that are being heard by 3 different divisions of the Sandiganyan. The 1st, 3rd, and 5th divisions are trying the cases of senators Ramon Revilla Jr, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jinggoy Estrada, respectively.
Napoles’ lawyers claim that the bank accounts of these witnesses would show that they have also amassed millions from the scheme, where millions of pesos in lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund were diverted by implementing agencies to ghost projects of Napoles' bogus non-governmental organizations.
Based on the affidavits submitted by the 3 witnesses to the Senate blue ribbon committee in 2013, they used to be employees of Napoles and were involved in some transactions with lawmakers. (READ: Navigating the PDAF scam affidavits)
Luy, Sula, and Suñas are expected to file a motion to quash, similar to what Luy did when the same petition was raised in the First Division.
Earlier, the Napoles camp asked the First Division to subpoena Luy’s accounts in 5 banks. The First Division initially granted the request in July, but later on granted Luy’s move to quash the subpoena order in August. The court said the disclosure would invade Luy's privacy.
In asking for the quashing of the subpoena, Luy's camp claimed that the supoena was tantamount to harassment. (READ: Luy assails court order to open bank accounts)
Luy's bank accounts are currently frozen, as they are the subject of a forfeiture case before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 22. The Anti-Money Laundering Council, through the Solicitor General, filed the case, wherein Luy would have to prove that his assets are not ill-gotten. (READ: Benhur Luy on freeze order: My assets are not from PDAF) – Rappler.com