Justice 'Marvic Leonen' listed as fake PDAF beneficiary
MANILA, Philippines – Under pressure to think of names for ghost beneficiaries of lawmakers' illegally diverted funds, employees of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles decided to use the names of bar exam passers – including that of now Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.
Prosecution witness Merlina Suñas, a former employee of Napoles, made this testimony before anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Monday, March 2. Suñas said the list of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) beneficiaries were "fabricated per the instruction" of Napoles.
Napoles gathered around 20 employees, including her maids and security guards, in a conference room to think of names for the list, the witness said.
Suñas said it "so happened" that the results of the bar exams were released on the day of one of their meetings.
"That was what we used. That was in 2007 or 2008," Suñas said in Filipino.
This modus operandi was also disclosed in a special Commission on Audit report as early as 2013. (READ: P6-B PDAF misused; 192 solons tagged)
The exchange that ensued between Justice Alexander Gesmundo and Suñas resulted in a light moment during the continuation of the bail hearing of detained Senator Jinggoy Estrada.
Gesmundo asked, drawing laughter from the court audience: "Did you encounter the names of any lawyers here?"
Suñas said there was one current Supreme Court justice who was included in the list: Associate Justice Marvic Leonen. Her response once again drew laughter from those present in the 5th division court room.
Leonen was named as the dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law in 2008. He had been a member of the law faculty since 1989.
Gesmundo probed further: Why choose lawyers? Whoever thought of that?
Suñas said it was Napoles' kasambahay or maid who thought of the idea to use the names of bar exam passers.
The 2013 special Commission on Audit report on lawmakers' PDAF releases from 2007 to 2009 found that at least P2.1 billion in pork barrel funds went to Napoles NGOs, which were found to have ghost projects and beneficiaries.
The defense panel in the plunder and graft case against Senator Jinggoy Estrada is set to cross-examine Suñas in the next hearing on Monday, March 9.
Estrada, along with fellow senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr, and former APEC Representative Edgar Valdez and Masbate Governor Rizalina Seachon-Lanete, are detained in different facilities over plunder and graft charges in connection with the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam.
They are accused of receiving kickbacks from lawmakers' discretionary funds through the use of fake NGOs controlled by Napoles. – Rappler.com