Pork barrel controversy pits Journalists against popular local broadsheet

By , on May 19, 2014


PDAF Infographic (Wikipedia photo)
PDAF Infographic (Wikipedia photo)

 

MANILA, Philippines – ‘Baseless’ and ‘hearsay.’ This is what at least three journalists think of the list published by the widely circulated local broadsheet, Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI), allegedly linking them to Janet Napoles.

The journalists, reportedly identified by pork barrel scam main witness Benhur Luy as having received cash payments from Janet Lim-Napoles, vehemently denied on Sunday, May 18, any anomalous involvement in the scam, and criticized the report by the PDI.

The PDI claimed that a list of Luy’s accounting entries revealed that several prominent journalists and media personalities were given “cash gifts” from Napoles, who has gained notoriety as the alleged culprit behind the now infamous Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) controversy that funneled billions of pesos to fictitious non-government organizations.

According to the daily’s report, the following news personalities received the corresponding amounts at some point from 2004 to 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

A number of those pinpointed, specifically Cruz-Valdes, Enriquez, and Sanchez, have already issued statements denying the allegations.

The PDI report detailed that a former television director identified as Mon Arroyo would serve as the go-between on behalf of the media persons and Napoles. The report further alleged that Arroyo received close to P500 million, and that Jen Corpuz – media consultant to senator Vicente Sotto III – likewise received a payout of up to P1,180,000.

Reports by the Rappler said that the information obtained by PDI 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 made the trip last year to PDI’s offices, in efforts to obtain assistance for their son; believed to have been illegally detained by Napoles.

However, appearing on local TV show Bandila late in the evening of 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 reportedly received funds from the scam. He added that Luy was in possession only of a database of 2,700 pages of financial transaction records from 2004 to 2010, and that the sharing of information that took place was unauthorized.

The exact details of the source and manner by which PDI obtained the list remain unclear. This particular list allegedly contains names that do not appear on the list of Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson, the “Napolist” supposedly shared by Napoles with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, illegal numbers game (jueteng) whistleblower Sandra Cam’s list, and Luy’s own records.