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2 more pin down Drilon

‘He blocked Napoles’ testimony in Senate fertilizer scam probe’ Other whistleblowers on Monday came out to corroborate Sandra Cam’s claims, accusing Senate President Franklin Drilon of protecting the alleged mastermind behind the pork barrel scam, Janet Lim Napoles, and lawmakers involved in the P728 million fertilizer scam in 2005. “Madulas at malakas talaga si Napoles. (Napoles was really slippery and influential.) Had Napoles been summoned by Drilon when he was Senate President [in 2005], the pork barrel and Malampaya scams would not have happened,” said Jose Barredo, the whistleblower in the fertilizer scam. Lawyer Melchor Magdamo, a member of the Whistleblowers’ Association of the Philippines, of which, Cam is president, confirmed Cam’s claims that Drilon and Napoles knew each other “even earlier than 2005.” Magdamo said Napoles was a “big financier” of Drilon and the ruling Liberal Party, a claim the LP denied Monday. “In 2005, Drilon was Senate President at the same time that he was president of the Liberal Party. The fertilizer scam took place shortly before the 2004 presidential elections even while the election ban on projects was in effect. Drilon and the LP were allied with former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at the time. In fact, the LP supported and campaigned for the Arroyo presidency,” Magdamo recounted. “Some LP candidates were under Mrs. Arroyo’s K4 senatorial ticket versus rival KNP, whose standard bearer was the late Fernando Poe Jr.” “The Senate probes on the fertilizer scam and the jueteng scam were taking place simultaneously at the time that the LP was locked in a legal battle over the LP leadership with the LP-Atienza wing in the Supreme Court and so Drilon, who was also LP president, could not antagonize his party’s financiers,” Magdamo said. “Napoles had close ties with the Arroyo administration and the LP was then an administration ally, such that Drilon even offered Arroyo to bring the Malacanang to Iloilo on the eve of the resignation en masse of the Hyatt 10,” said Magdamo. “Since many of the lawmakers and government agency officials allied with the Arroyo administration at the time were also allies of Drilon and the LP before the falling out, he tried to block the efforts to dig deeper into the fertilizer scam,” he added. Cam, Barredo and Magdamo challenged Drilon to explain to the public his refusal to summon Napoles to the Senate up to this day. “Drilon had blocked the efforts to summon Napoles to the fertilizer scam probe and all that [then] Senator Ramon Magsaysay, chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture, could tell the whistleblowers was that Napoles had ‘many Senator-friends and congressman-friends who will be implicated’,” Cam said. The Manila Standard tried but failed to reach Magsaysay for comment because the former senator is in the United States. Barredo, who was former operations manager of the Aytuna Managers and Consultancy Inc., owned by a certain Tess Aytuna, said Aytuna’s camp had at least delivered 25 percent of the fertilizer projects. “In the case of Napoles, it was worse because there were ghost deliveries or no deliveries at all and so I was pushing that the Senate must dig deeper into the fertilizer scam, to no avail,” said Barredo, who remains under the Witness Protection Program to this day. “Parang sasabog ang dibdib ko (My chest felt like exploding) when the pork barrel scam and Malampaya scams were made public by the Commission on Audit because that was what we wanted to prevent at the time, not to let any more big time swindlers and scammers plunder the coffers,” Barredo said. Barredo was referring to the 2007-2009 COA special report that showed lawmakers linked to Napoles made a killing from the pork barrel projects leaving only 20 percent of the funds to bankroll legitimate projects. The COA also found that Napoles’ fake non-government organizations were involved in the P728-million fertilizer and P900-million Malampaya scams. Barredo said he had testified that he was responsible for delivering 25 percent of the liquid fertilizer in Regions 3 and 6. “I testified that in the allocation of P5 million, only 25 percent was being delivered and this 25 percent was even diluted. For example, the 350-liter liquid fertilizer was being diluted and only 150 liters were real fer-tilizer for a price of P1,500. It was really overpriced,” Barredo said. “But the Napoles group had no deliveries at all and so we wanted the Senate to pursue the probe,” Barredo said. Barredo and Magdamo joined Cam in urging Senator Teofisto Guingona III and other senators to summon Napoles to shed light on the pork barrel controversy. Cam on Monday insisted that Drilon had raised the hand of and endorsed Napoles’ associate, Rene Maglanque, in his run for mayor of Candaba during a political rally in Pampanga, despite denials issued by Liberal Party officials and the Senate President’s chief of staff. “The picture says it all. If Maglanque was independent, why was there a need for Drilon to endorse him and raise his hands during a political rally, with other Team PNoy senatorial candidates present? So they have dropped Maglanque now that I made public that Drilon and the LP embraced a jueteng bagman, who was also the partner in crime of Napoles in the pork barrel and Malampaya scams,” Cam said. “I and my group went to Candaba to verify these reports because it has become our advocacy to help expose rogue politicians and the pictures speak a thousand words,” said Cam. Cam also challenged Drilon and the LP to show the P700,000 worth of receipts that Drilon said she had spent while under the Senate’s protection. She denied accumulating P700,000 in expenses, saying her safe house and meals came from the priests and nuns who took her into custody. Cam also denied abusing her security detail. With Sara Susanne D. Fabunan and Fred Villareal    
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