A businesswoman at the center of a massive Manila corruption scandal has been charged in the US with laundering about USD$20 million allegedly pilfered from the Philippine state, prosecutors said, adding they would seek her extradition.
A federal grand jury in California indicted Tuesday Philippine national Janet Lim Napoles, a key suspect in the so-called “pork barrel” scandal where politicians allegedly embezzled roughly USD$200 million (PHP 10 BILLION)that was supposed to help poor Filipinos.
Napoles, along with five family members, is accused of wiring $20 million of the stolen money from the Philippines to California bank accounts, the US attorney’s office said in a statement.
Lim, 54, is already behind bars in the Philippines, where she is on trial over graft charges stemming from the alleged embezzlement.
The Manila law firm representing her declined to comment.
The US indictment alleges the defendants used the money to buy real estate, shares in businesses, two Porsche Boxsters and finance the living expenses of three US-based Napoles family members.
“We will work with our Philippine counterparts to secure the extradition of the defendants to the United States,” said US Attorney Nick Hanna.
The US government won a court order in 2015 to freeze $12.5 million worth of assets bought by Napoles and others using the allegedly stolen funds.
“If the court orders the assets forfeited, the United States will work… to return the stolen funds back to the Philippine government,” the statement said.
The money was intended for use in development projects chosen by lawmakers, but instead it was diverted to phoney non-profit organisations and stolen.
The scandal rocked the Philippines, where one in five people live on the equivalent of just over a dollar a day.
Three Filipino senators (Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla) were among those arrested in Manila in 2014 over the scam.
After her arrest in Manila, the US government said, Napoles and her family attempted to quietly liquidate the American assets and move the cash back to the Philippines or accounts in the US and Britain.
The defendants also allegedly attempted to give some of the money to Napoles’s US-based daughter, one of those indicted, who used the cash to open a fashion business.
Last year Napoles won a legal victory when a Philippine appellate court acquitted her of charges of abducting and detaining a former aide (whistleblower Benhur Luy) who turned state witness against her in the plunder and graft charges.
However, President Rodrigo Duterte’s government recently dropped an earlier proposal to turn her into a state witness, which could have lessened her exposure to a long prison sentence if convicted.
Story by Agence France Presse
File photo: Janet Lim Napoles with Senator Frank Drilon
The 2018 State of the Nation Address had major fireworks not related to the Presidential speech when the House of Representatives erupted into chaos with a coup de etat that resulted in the removal of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. The major beneficiary of the change in leadership was former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and now a Congresswoman from the province of Pampanga, who assumed the position of fourth highest ranking official of the Philippines (after the President, Vice President and Senate President).
GMA, as the former President is called, was under hospital arrest for five years of the Aquino Administration but has now been cleared of graft charges. Backroom negotiations and maneuverings point to Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the Presidential daughter, as having played a significant role in the OUSTER of her arch enemy, the former House Speaker Alvarez. Selected members of the Lower House received phone calls from Inday Sara to DUMP Alvarez. Inday Sara has just recently formed a Davao regional political party, Hugpong Ng Pagbabago precisely to weaken the Partido Democratiko Pilipino – Lakas Ng Bayan, PDP Laban, the party under which then Davao City Mayor Rodrgo Roa Duterte ran and won the Presidency in 2016. A faction of the PDP Laban recently conducted elections and removed former Senate President Koko Pimentel and former House Speaker Congressman Pantaleon Alvarez from top PDP Laban posts.
All these troubles can only WEAKEN PDP Laban as congressmen and women seek to jump out of an apparently sinking ship. GMA, currently with PDP Laban can revitalize her former political party, Lakas, while Sara Duterte has announced plans to form alliances with national political parties as well as other regional political parties. While PDP Laban and Hugpong Ng Pagbabgo are both supportive of the Duterte Administration, it s clear for everyone to see that the future of Hugpong Ng Pagbabago, as of now, is much brighter than that of the falling star, PDP Laban.
PHOTO: Hugpong ng Pagbabago logo with PCOO Asec Mocha Uson, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, former PNP Chief Bato De La Rosa and SAP Bong Go – all four rumored to run for the 2019 senatorial elections.
#Duterte #Elections2019 #MayorSaraDuterte #HugpongNgPagbabago #TapangAtMalasakit #PDPLaban
Kailangan ng BITAY para labanan ang mga drug lords at pushers, dahil wala na silang takot na gumawa ng katiwalian. Sisiguraduhin ni Atty Rey Umali Kakampi ni Presidente Duterte sa Senado, ang ating AbogadoNgBayan, na walang kalakalan ng droga sa ating bansa. Ano po ang say ninyo mga kaDDS? Attendance po tayo. Nasaan kayo? Tagsaan kayo?
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FB fan page Atty Rey Umali – Like, Comment, SHARE and Invite your Friends to Like this Page – https://www.facebook.com/Atty-Rey-Umali-Kakampi-ni-Presidente-Duterte-sa-Senado-275822679649878/?hc_ref=ARQ5e4kqVFD02NZ-OWqVFYexm_KHkU5bGu0kSWhZn-LO4eBO98sY9k_uFu3uBrp1OkM&fref=gs&dti=239205739422874
Expanded video on YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-S9926hs44
FB fan page with Live Streaming – https://www.facebook.com/KilusangPagbabagoMetroManila/
#Duterte #KilusangPagbabago #TapangAtMalasakit #HugpongNgPagbabago #ChangeIsComing #ChangeIsHere #BongGo #SaraDuterte
Share Share Share – Breaking News: Like Like Like —–>>>>> @Duterte https://www.facebook.com/MetroManilaKilusangPagbabago/ ***** At least 34 DEAD by fire caused by armed man who attacked, robbed and set fire to Resorts World Manila. Gunman believed to have killed himself by setting his room on fire then shot himself with a pistol. #ResortsWorldManila
AT least 34 people have been killed after a masked gunman stormed a Manila casino and set fire to gambling tables before burning himself to death.
The horrific death toll was revealed by sources at the Philippine Bureau of Fire Protection, who said most died from smoke billowing out of the flaming tables.
According to reports, the man, who is thought to be a white “English speaker”, raced into the Resorts World Manila complex shortly after midnight and fires at TV screens.
As terrified guests began screaming and running for the exits, the gunman pulled out a can of gasoline, poured it over gaming tables and set it ablaze.
He then stuffed his rucksack with £175,000 of casino chips before fleeing in the mayhem.
Manila: Gunman dead after firing shots, setting Resorts World complex ablaze
Philippine police say a gunman who burst into a Manila entertainment complex, firing gunshots and setting a casino ablaze, has taken his own life.
Authorities said the man’s motive was robbery, and that the incident was not terrorism-related.
“We cannot attribute this to terrorism,” National police chief Ronald dela Rosa told local media.
Shortly after midnight, shots and loud bangs rang out at the popular Resorts World Manila complex, which is close to close to Terminal Three of Ninoy Aquino International Airport and an air force base.
Mr dela Rosa said the “foreign looking, Caucasian gunman” burst into the casino, fired shots and set gaming tables alight, sowing panic in a country on high alert after martial law was declared in the south.
“He parked at the second floor and barged into the casino, shooting large TV screens and poured gasoline on a table setting it on fire,” he said.
“We are looking into a robbery angle because he did not hurt any people and went straight to the casino chips storage room.
Smoke was seen billowing from the upper story of the complex’s hotel wing hours after the initial assault as police worked to clear the resort room by room.
Hours later, Metropolitan Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde says the English-speaking suspect was found dead around dawn with his rifle on the fifth floor of the Resorts World Manila complex.
The suspect reportedly took 113 million pesos ($3 million) worth of gambling chips, which were found in a bag he was carrying.
Mr Abayalde said there was no indication of terrorism, and that authorities believe the suspect either lost in the casino and wanted to get his money back, or went “totally nuts”.
Officials said at least 54 people were hurt, some seriously, as they rushed to escape what at first had been feared as a militant attack.
Large numbers of police massed outside as smoke rose from the hotel and shopping complex, which according to its website holds the largest casino resort in the country.
Resorts World Manila said on social media it was in lock down.
Witnesses at the scene reported armed police entering a hotel near the complex, while videos posted earlier on social media showed people fleeing as several loud bangs were heard.
People caught up in panic following the incident were being treated at a nearby hospital for smoke inhalation and fractures, hospital staff said.
The Philippines has been on heightened alert amid a crisis in the south of the country, where troops have been battling Islamist rebels since May 23.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the southern island of Mindanao last week.
Police chief dela Rosa said it was possible militant group Islamic State would claim responsibility for the incident for propaganda purposes.
President Duterte has said he fears Islamic State’s “terrible ideology” will spread on Mindanao, an island of 22 million people, and has warned it could become a haven for supporters fleeing Iraq and Syria.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa on Friday confirmed that the lone gunman behind the attack on Resorts World Manila is dead.
Dela Rosa, who earlier claimed that the gunman was killed after resisting arrest, said that the suspect set himself on fire in one of the rooms at the hotel.
“Patay na siya. Nagsunog siya sa sarili niya sa loob ng hotel, sa Room 510,” Dela Rosa told reporters. “Sunog talaga.” (He’s dead. He burned himself inside the hotel in Room 510. He was burned beyond recognition.)
“Humiga siya sa bed, kinoveran niya sarili niya ng makapal na kumot, and apparently nagbuhos siya ng gasolina sa kumot at nagsindi sa sarili. Sunog siya (He lied in bed, covered himself in a blanket, poured gas on the blanket and set himself on fire. He’s burned),” Dela Rosa added.
Earlier, the police chief said the gunman was a foreigner, a Caucasian who appeared to stand six-foot tall.
He, however, denied reports that the international terror group ISIS was responsible for the attack.
“There is a lone man who entered the second floor of Resorts World Manila. He was carrying an M4 rifle and he burned gambling tables. He did not shoot anyone,” Dela Rosa said in an interview with reporters at the police command center in the hotel complex.
Police are eyeing robbery, not terrorism, as motive behind the shooting for the suspect stole P130 million worth of casino chips.
Police, composed of members of Special Action Force (SAF) and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), are still in the area. IDL
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Cops release photo of suspect in RW attack; say he acted alone
The Philippine National Police released screenshots of the lone gunman that went on a rampage at the Resorts World Manila in Pasay City early Friday morning.
The still unidentified gunman was seen wearing a bonnet, a gray sweatshirt, and armed with a “baby Armalite”.
Authorities have yet to confirm the gunman’s identity and nationality as he burned himself to death in a Maxims Hotel room.
Police chief Ronald Dela Rosa ruled out terrorism as the motive of the attack as the suspect neither threatened nor harmed civilians.
But the military insists this ‘does not confirm the clear presence of ISIS’ in the Philippines
PHOTO: MILITARY OPERATIONS. Army scout rangers conduct clearing operations to flush out members of the Maute Group occupying the city. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Philippine government on Friday, May 26, said foreigners were among the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf Group members fighting government troops in Marawi City.
“Malaysian, Indonesians from Singapore and other foreign jihadists,” said Solicitor General Jose Calida in a press conference with Palace officials and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Davao City.
Calida, in explaining why President Rodrigo Duterte had declared martial law over the entire Mindanao island region, said: “What’s happening in Mindanao is no longer a rebellion of Filipino citizens. It has transmogrified into invasion by foreign terrorists who heeded the clarion call of the ISIS to go to the Philippines if they find difficulty in going to Iraq or Syria.”
AFP spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, who was also at the press conference, confirmed that of the 31 alleged Maute Group members killed in clashes with government troops, 6 had been identified as foreigners.
Martial law was declared over Mindanao on May 23, following what the military said was a surgical strike against Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon, who is believed to have pledged allegiance to ISIS.
Critics said the clashes in Marawi did not merit a Mindanao-wide coverage of martial law and that President Rodrigo Duterte is merely using the conflict as basis for imposing tougher measures and silencing dissent.
On May 23, at least 3 fires broke out in Marawi City. Residents have since fled the city as government troops continue to hold clearing operations.
Padilla would only confirm the presence of Indonesian and Malaysian fighters and refused to say how many of each nationality were identified as those killed in Marawi.
The AFP spokesman said the foreign nationals had been residing in the Philippines for “a long time.” “Some have been helping, teaching, aiding, and connecting [local terror groups],” he added.
But no ISIS?
Still, Padilla said that this does not equate to ISIS presence in the country. “Again, on the matter of ISIS the President emphasized that there’s ISIS footprint but that does not confirm the clear presence of ISIS itself yet,” he told media in a chance interview.
But a terrorism expert warned the government against downplaying ISIS presence in the Philippines. The country is now the ISIS’ epicenter in Southeast Asia, Rohan Gunaratna told Rappler.
Members of the Maute Group, while breakaway elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), “are no longer Mautes” and “are no longer MILF,” Gunaratna explained. “They are IS, because they are operating like IS, and they have changed the name,” he said. “So we have to name them by the group they call themselves.” – Rappler.com