MANILA, Philippines—She may be out of sight but even in the midst of the disastrous floods sweeping Metro Manila, businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles seems to be very much in the thoughts of Internet users.
“I wonder if #Napoles used some of her billions for cloud-seeding. The weather calamities are effective diversions from the #porkbarrelscam,” Karen Jimeno, a defense lawyer in the impeachment case against former Chief Justice Renato Corona, said in her Twitter account.
User @XedAmora posted in Filipino in his Twitter acount: “Janet Napoles, show yourself up now! You are the one that #MaringPH is looking for.”
Napoles, alleged mastermind of a P10-billion pork barrel scam, has been the target of a government manhunt since last week.
She and her brother Reynald “Jojo” Lim are wanted by the National Bureau of Investigation and the police in connection with the illegal detention of Napoles’ cousin and scam whistle-blower Benhur Luy Napoles.
“Bad news: Runway at Naia flooded. Good news: No escape now for Napoles,” user @caveattt tweeted.
“Napoles has bought even a typhoon haha,” Twitter user Pocholo Magpayo said also in Filipino.
User Emil Karlo Dela Cruz posted in his Facebook account: “Times like these, I am beginning to think: I wonder how many rescue boats, evacuation centers, emergency supplies, relief goods can be bought by Napoles’ PhP 10-B?”
“If Napoles donates all of what she ‘supposedly’ stole and help out or spearhead a relief operation, will she be forgiven?” Twitter user Aldo Tong wondered.
Typhoon Napoles next
“Janet Lim-Napoles, are your NGOs helping the victims of Storm Maring?” user @tristanabantao asked.
User @jomskiii posted: “Typhoon Napoles is next. After all, you are a big DEPRESSION eh.”
Netizen @miaaLmiraaa used her imagination: “At least, there’s flooding in Napoles’ house” [in Magallanes village, Makati City].
It was not clear if she meant that Napoles’ house was flooded with money or with rainwater brought by the storm.
A legislator in Valenzuela City tweeted lawmakers and others linked to the pork barrel scam to come clean.
Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian said on Twitter that the floods “may be your punishment for the pork barrel scam. Time for you to repent.” The message was retweeted 30 times.
Asked by the Inquirer about the tweet, Gatchalian said it was made in jest amid the troubles facing the country.
Gatchalian also said: “I remembered how some people blamed the ‘habagat’ rains last year on the Reproductive Health bill that was passed into law. So this tweet sort of follows that logic, which is to blame the heavy rains and floods on these big issues.”
Kidding aside, Gatchalian said he was not involved in the scam and urged Napoles “to come out and tell the truth. Do the country a favor, come out and do it for the sake of the nation.”
Meanwhile, the Diocese of Caloocan took to Facebook to criticize people who seemed to enjoy the floods.
The diocese posted this in Filipino: “To those who are still praying or wishing for more rain so that classes will be suspended tomorrow, maybe you could just pray for the rain to stop. If you don’t want to go to school, just be absent.”
A lawyer for the party-list group Sanlakas suggested one way of helping the victims of the storm—allow them to occupy Napoles’ 28 mansions as temporary shelters.
In a phone interview, lawyer Argee Guevarra urged local government units (LGUs) to “expropriate Napoles’ mansions and use them as evacuation centers.”
He said the LGUs could exercise police powers during an emergency.
“In the same manner that the state can temporarily dispossess citizens of their property rights through mandatory evacuation, LGUs can designate these mansions as temporary evacuation centers,” he said.
The Inquirer has learned that Napoles owns 28 homes and condominium units in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.—With a report from Christine O. Avendaño