GMA News anchor: I don’t know Jeane Napoles
Editor's Note: As a follow up to our exclusive story (READ: Jeane Napoles partied in Manila October 2014) on Jeane Napoles being back in the country in October 2014, we are publishing this story based on a GMA News report on anchor Vicky Morales. Natashya Gutierrez, who wrote our first story, spoke with Ms Morales before we published it. This story contains details of Ms Morales' statement issued to her own network.
MANILA, Philippines – A day after Rappler released a report on the controversial daughter of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles being back in the Philippines, GMA News anchor Vicky Morales issued a statement, saying she had never spoken to Jeane Napoles at a birthday party where they were pictured together in October 2014.
Jeane is the daughter of Janet Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the biggest corruption scandal in the country’s recent history. Janet is accused of funnelling millions of pesos of taxpayers’ money to her fake non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and colluding with lawmakers to pocket the funds. (READ: Janet Napoles: From scandal to surrender)
She is currently detained as she faces 5 counts of plunder, 74 counts of graft, and 14 counts of malversation.
Jeane, meanwhile, is facing tax evasion charges in the Philippines.
On October 10, 2013, the Bureau of Internal Revenue filed tax evasion charges against Jeane for her reported failure to pay taxes worth P32 million. The tax liabilities are based on her supposed ownership of two properties – a condominium unit at the posh Ritz Carlton in Los Angeles, California worth P54.73 million and a farm lot in Bayambang, Pangasinan worth P1.49 million.
BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said in 2013, Jeane failed to file any income tax return for 2011-2012 that would have proven she had income that allowed her to buy these properties. Neither were these properties declared as gifts, Henares also said.
In a story on GMA News Online, Morales is quoted as saying, “I do not know Ms Jeane Napoles, nor have I spoken with her at any time.”
She also explained – as Rappler reported – that she went to the party at Kidzville in SM Aura to bring her children to the birthday party of Ellie, the celebrant, who is a playmate of her daughter.
Ellie, the celebrant, is the youngest daughter of Reynald “Jojo” Lim.
Jojo, Janet’s brother, is her co-accused in an illegal detention case for kidnapping pork barrel scam star witness Benhur Luy. Jojo, who has an arrest warrant against him, has been at large since August 2013. His passport has also been canceled.
Morales said: “My daughter and Ellie go to the same playground in our condominium, hence they were invited. As a hands-on mom, it has always been my practice to drop off my kids at birthday parties and fetch them afterwards. I know Anna, the mother of Ellie, because we live in the same building."
She also explained how she ended up joining the picture with the Napoles family.
"As the children's party was about to end, a crowd gathered in front of the function room for a group photo with the children who had attended. As I waited for my kids, the group requested me to join them as well, to which I obliged, even if I did not know most of the people in the photo," she said.
She added, “It is unfortunate that some people have imputed malice and taken the photo out of context."
Rappler’s report did not mention that Morales talked to Jeane, but instead questioned whether she recognized Jeane at the party or not, which she denied.
“I really didn’t know she was there,” she told Rappler.
In her statement, Morales also said that in her 25 years of broadcasting, “I have always valued integrity, hard work, fairness, and objectivity — and I shall continue to do so, consistent with GMA News' commitment to uphold the highest ethical standards.”
Morales did not address her relationship with the rest of the Napoles family in her statement, aside from saying she knows Jojo's wife, Anna. She told Rappler she knows Jojo, Anna, and "Jenny," referring to Janet, but denied they are good friends.
Anna Marie Dulguime was also charged, along with Jojo, for falsification of public documents in a separate Sandiganbayan case in connection with the ghost delivery of Kevlar helmets to the Philippine Marines in 1998 – believed to be the case where Janet learned the tricks of the trade.
Aside from Jeane and Morales, the photo shows Janet’s husband Jaime, Janet’s youngest child Christian, her older children, Jo Christine and James Cristopher – both of whom are also facing graft charges – and sister-in-law Anna, among others. – Rappler.com