Janet Lim-Napoles is the president, CEO, and founder of JLN Corporation, a diversified Philippine company with interests in real estate development, hotels, restaurants, information technology, and agriculture. Established in 2009, the company has grown significantly in the past few years, with total assets reaching about $2 million in 2012.
Why is she in the news?
Napoles is the alleged mastermind behind a scam involving the misuse of millions of dollars of government money from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), more popularly referred to as the “pork barrel” fund. “Pork barrel” funds are made available to Philippine legislators for use on local infrastructure projects. According to a July 12 exposé by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Napoles helped lawmakers pilfer PDAF money through ghost projects, including the creation of 20 fake nongovernmental organizations.
Napoles was the target of a weeks-long manhunt before surrendering herself to President Benigno Aquino, who turned her over to the Philippine National Police on August 28.
What can we expect from her?
Napoles continues to deny the charges against her. Ongoing investigations have implicated numerous lawmakers in the scam, including senior politicians like Senators Ramon Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Vincente Sotto III, and Loren Legarda—all of whom allegedly allocated portions of their funds to Napoles’s ghost projects. According to whistleblowers, government officials involved in the scam received kickbacks of up to 65 percent of the allocated costs of these ghost projects.
President Aquino on August 23 announced his intent to abolish the controversial PDAF following public outcry. His decision to do away with the pork barrel fund sends a message that he is able to deliver on his promises of fighting corruption in the Philippine political system. Expect the Aquino administration to continue to investigate the Napoles’s scam and prosecute lawmakers found to be involved.