MANILA – Pork barrel fund scam whistle-blower Benhur Luy on Tuesday told the Makati Regional Trial Court (MRTC) that alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles transferred P800,000 from his account with the Metrobank Julia Vargas branch to her (JLN) account on December 20, 2012, using forged signatures on withdrawal slips and debit memos.
Testifying in the continuation of the hearing at the Makati RTC on the illegal detention complaint he lodged against Napoles, Luy added that his US 1 account with Metrobank was also closed on December 27, 2012,on orders of Napoles.
Luy said he only knew of the transfer of his bank accounts and the withdrawals shortly after his rescue by the National Bureau of Investigation on March 22, 2013 while being held at Napoles’ house at 52 Lapu Lapu St.,Magalles Village in Makati City.
Napoles, tagged as the alleged brains in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, is currently detained at Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna facing serious illegal detention charges filed by her former employee-turned-whistleblower Benhur Luy.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Napoles lawyer wants Napoles tried again to defer Luy’s testimony but Judge Elmo Alameda of Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 opposed it.
”I do not want that proceedings be controlled by parties of the case,” Alameda said in open court.
Alameda added that testimony of Luy has been postponed for three times due to defense request. Luy return to witness stand only today, June 17 (after three postponement that was supposed to testify on May 26 but it was rescheduled as the court was then hearing Napoles’ motion for hospital confinement.
The scheduled hearings on June 2 and 9 were also postponed as defense lawyer Stephen David, who took over the case from lawyer Alfredo Villamor, claimed he needed more time to study the records of the case.
At the same time, Luy told the court that while he was being illegaly detained, Napoles also had his unit at the One Lafayette condominium at the Eastwood City in Quezon City padlocked.
Luy added that during his illegal detention, he was deprived of access to his condominium unit and his personal items inside valued at some P1 million.
Luy presented in court a three-page handwritten inventory of the items inside the padlocked condominium unit.
”Marami po akong gamit doon. Inilista ko lahat ng nasa condo. Siguro umaabot po ng more than one million pesos. Hindi nakuha nakapadlocked,” Luy said adding it was ordered by Napoles that the unit be padlocked for him not to get his things.
Luy said the unit was owned by Napoles. He stayed in condo unit from July 2009 up to December 19, 2012 and he is the one paying the association dues as well as water and electricity bills.
He said he receives P45,000 monthly from Napoles for being her finance officer.
” All-around po ako. Pero ang title ko talaga, ako ay finance officer,” he told the court.
Luy also said that during his detention, he was only allowed to speak with Monsignor Josefino Ramirez, adding he was threatened by Napoles’ brother, Reynald “Jojo” Lim, that if he would not follow their instructions, something bad will happen to him or his family.
Asked how much he thinks the threat on his life and his sleepless nights cost, Luy said he will leave the matter to the discretion of the court.
Luy will return to witness stand on July 1, 10 a.m. where he will field questions from defense panel while another hearing was set on July 8 at 10 a.m.
Meanwhile, the court also accepted the resignation of Alfredo Villamor as lawyer of Napoles in the illegal detention case.
Villamor was replaced as Napoles’ lead counsel Stephen David, who will also serve as his lawyer in her plunder case before the Sandiganbayan.
Atty. Bruce Rivera, spokesperson of the Napoles family, said he was asked by Napoles herself to take over her serious illegal detention case.
After Lawyer Lorna Kapunan resigned as Napoles’ counsel, Lawyer Stephen David has since led the defense side in place of Lawyer Alfredo Villamor, who replaced Kapunan as the head counsel.
Villamor also quit recently as Napoles’ lawyer due to family-related problems. Rivera said that David is to focus on her plunder and graft charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the P10 billion pork barrel scam she allegedly masterminded.
As Rivera declared the changes in the court, this came to David’s surprise, saying he was not informed of Napoles’ decision telling him to drop the serious illegal detention case.
But Rivera clarified that after the hearing, his misunderstanding with David had already been settled.
”Nagkaroon kami tuloy ng confusion regarding the cases kasi Atty. David is supposed to be. Hindi niya pa alam. I was asked that I will be lead counsel, but there would be collaborating works,” Rivera explained.
Because of the confusion, the cross examination of the defense panel with Luy has been postponed. Hearings will resume on July 1 and 8.
The decision was made after Rivera sought “ample time” to study the case, which irked Prosecutor Christopher Garvida due to several delays in the case.
The Makati RTC Branch 15 is handling the serious illegal detention case, a non-bailable offense, filed against Napoles, who is also the alleged mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Apart from the serious illegal detention case, Napoles is also facing plunder charges in connection with the alleged pork barrel scam together with high profile personalites involve in pork barrel scam.