“You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” Walter Hagen
By Alex P. Vidal
A female defeated mayoral candidate in Pavia, Iloilo once played host to Janet Napoles when the latter visited Iloilo City sometime in 2003, said the former staff of a deceased senator.
The former staff, a lawyer and a native of Calinog, Iloilo, who now resides in Manila, said Napoles stayed at Hotel del Rio for one night during her quick visit in Iloilo City.
“Mrs. Napoles met with various staff members of some Iloilo congressmen on separate schedules and discussed some projects for Iloilo districts,” disclosed the former staff, who requested anonymity because his present job does not allow him to speak to media without prior approval from his new boss.
It was not known if Napoles and the congressional staff members sealed an agreement to implement certain projects in the city and province of Iloilo. The meetings were mostly held at the hotel’s Igmaan Hall, said the former staff member.
The lawyer said Napoles “also made a brief visit to Garin Farm” and was impressed with what she saw inside the farm owned by the Garin family.
The lawyer said Napoles hinted of buying lots in Guimaras and Iloilo and build a farm there similar to what she discovered in the Garin Farm, a one-stop shop for farmers, investors and agricultural enthusiasts.
“Mrs. Napoles was mesmerized with what she saw inside the Garin Farm,” the former staff quoted the defeated mayoral candidate, who reportedly accompanied Napoles.
The farm is a demonstration farm showcasing viable agricultural livelihood plant and animal culture with their corresponding product processing and zero waste management program demonstrating a balanced co-existence of plants and animals.
It can be reached from the highway section of RACSOS Woodland Resort or Bantayan in Guimbal.
Two former Iloilo solons were recently linked in the pork barrel scandal involving the defunct National Agri-business Corp. (NABCOR) of the Department of Agriculture.
Former NABCOR officials Rhodora Mendoza and Victor Cacal, the latest witnesses in the P10-billion pork barrel scam investigation, mentioned the names of former Iloilo City Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr. and former Iloilo first district Rep. Janette L. Garin, who is now undersecretary of the Department of Health.
Undersecretary Garin is the wife of now Rep. Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr., son of Oscar Sr., the man who built Garin Farm and RACSOS Woodland Resort when he was congressman in the first district of Iloilo during the time of the late former Pres. Corazon Aquino and former President FVR, while Gonzalez is the son of former Justice Secretary Raul Sr.
Both former members of the House of Representatives denied any involvement in the pork barrel issue.
The former staff, however, did not confirm if the staff of the two former solons were among those who met Napoles during her quick trip in Iloilo City.
The Garin family had no idea about Napoles’ alleged visit in the popular farm “because Mrs. Napoles was still unknown at that time and may not be familiar with any politician in Iloilo,” said the source.