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Napoles ‘entitled to due process’ – Kapunan

Rappler.com
Why did she accept Napoles as client? Kapunan says: 'The PDAF. I want to know the truth about the PDAF. We are not coddlers. We are not apologists.'

 

MANILA, Philippines – She is a lawyer with a long tradition of fighting for various advocacies. She fought alongside critics of former President Gloria Arroyo and has herself called for the abolition of the pork barrel.

Why did Lorna Kapunan accept Janet Lim-Napoles as a client?

“The PDAF. I want to know the truth about the PDAF. We are not coddlers. We are not apologists.” Kapunan told Karen Davilla on Headstart, aired on the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC), on Tuesday, September 3. 

Napoles has been named in media reports as the alleged mastermind of a scam that siphons off the Priority Development Assistance Fund of senators and congressmen through dubious non-governmental organizations. State auditors have confirmed the modus operandi, while the justice department is conducting its own probe.

Does Kapunan believe Napoles is innocent? “I believe she is entitled to due process, wherever that leads,” the lawyer said.

She admits there are a lot of things she doesn’t know, but she talked about a P300-million extortion attempt on Napoles to make “this whole case disappear.” She said it involves people in the very agencies investigating her – the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) – but she did not elaborate. 

She doesn’t know Napoles, but it was “somebody I totally trust” that introduced them. “Ang sinabi sa amin, marami nagsisira sa kaniya (What we were told was, there are people who are out to destroy her). Based on our conversations with her, we believed her,” Kapunan said. 

Two diffrent cases

Kapunan slammed program host Davila for her “bias” against Napoles. She said she braved facing the anchor to “correct statements you make on air.” She said she also wants to correct claims by other stations and by Rappler.

Kapunan is defending Napoles against charges she illegally detained her cousin-turned-whistleblower Benhur Luy. The kidnapping case is different from the one the government is preparing against her in connection with the alleged multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam that involves many lawmakers.

Kapunan went to great lengths defending Napoles in the case of serious illegal detention. But  when it came to the alleged pork barrel scam, she admitted there are a lot of things she herself wants to know from Napoles. 

She said Luy could not have been kindapped because they have CCTV of Luy moving around freely inside the retreat house. They also have CCTV of Luy telling NBI officials – when they “rescued” him in March – that he wasn’t kidnapped.

Kapunan said Luy willingly entered the retreat house after Napoles supposedly discovered that he pocketed P300,000 of the employees’ Christmas bonus and made P2.7-million worth of loans using the name of Napoles. (Other reports say it was a P5-million loan.) 

That’s when, Kapunan said, Luy “promised” to “atone” for his sins. “He would put himself on self-solitude so that Mrs Napoles would not file any charges against him.”

Luy’s parents sought the help of the NBI, which “rescued” him in March. This begins Luy’s tell-all revelations on Napoles’s alleged pork barrel scam.

“If you don’t’ believe the CCTV, believe his diary. He chronicled daily his days in the retreat house. You cannot invent that,” Kapunan said. 

Davila asked: If Luy wasn’t kidnapped, why did he suddenly come out naming Napoles as the mastermind of the pork barrel scam?

Kapunan replied: “What happened there was a certain Atty Baligod…. Apparently – this is allegedly – Attorney Baligod is known as an ambulance chaser. In layman’s language, mahilig maghanap ng client. When the parents of Benhur wrote the NBI to look for his son, he saw the opportunity to make it an extortion situation,” Kapunan said.

Kapunan went on to attack Luy for “doing drugs” and for taking “pictures of men without his clothes.” Kapunan said Luy earned only P25,000 a month from Napoles, but he owns several properties – among them, a “condo where he brings men there, his toy boys.”

She said Luy also owns a call center and two medical facilities.

’30 cars is a lie; 28 homes is a lie’

There are many lies circulating about Napoles, said Kapunan. “The problem with this (NBI) investigation is it’s in aid of media. They are announcing all their findings to media. What is the nature of this NBI probe? Shouldn’t this be confidential or two-sided if Napoles is central [to the probe]?” she said. 

It’s easier if the evidence is presented to the court not the media, she said. “We also want to do modes of discovery. We cannot answer allegation in the news. We cannot answer allegations of whilstleblowers whose identities cannot be named,” she said. 

Kapunan went on to enumerate supposed lies circulating in the media. She said many of the employees who testified against Napoles were only threatened to do so, and a number of them have supposedly retracted their testimonies.

“Thirty cars is a lie. Twenty-eight homes is a lie,” she added, referring to information released by the DOJ to the media.

Kapunan said she knows of 3 properties: two in Pacific Plaza and an old home in Magallanes. The mother owns a house, but it is registred under her foundation, she said.

“She does not have 3 yachts. She does not have an airplane and no shark in her aquarium or tigers guarding her house,” she went on. 

Kapunan says Napoles did not set up the NGOs. “She is not involved. Her name is not there.”

Kapunan slammed Rappler for its report on the Ritz Carlon property of Napoles’ daughter. She added her Porsche was a “knock down unit.” (Rappler stands by its story. – Ed.)

But there are many things Kapunan admitted she doesn’t know. 

She said Napoles denied doing business with senators involving their pork barrel, but she doesn’t know whether she is personally close to them. 

“Frankly, I dont’ know…. I’d like to verify as well. She said these are usual party pictures and all that…. I’d like to know myself her relationship with all senators,” Kapunan said. She was referring to photos published by Rappler showing Napoles partying with senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. 

She said he does’t know the net worth of Napoles, but maintains her client’s income comes from “dividends earned from foreign companies.”  

“The Indonesiona partner came forward, willing to testify. The American partner also came, willing to testify,” she said.

Benhur the mastermind?

Kapunan tried to turn the tables on the whistleblowers. “As a mater of fact, they (employees) claim Benhur went around to get their signatures [to set up the NGOs] para sa tulong sa mga naghihirap (to help the poor). So they signed.” 

She added: “I’m not saying they are the mastermind. I want to know myself.”

“Whoever possesses owns. He is the one in possession of his records and government contracts. He is on record as being quoted that he had forged signatures of certain senators and congressmen,” she said.

But what if Kapunan discovers Napoles is guilty? Will Kapunan abandon her? She said she won’t. “We have to study her legal options. It is our duty as lawyers to act on the best interest not only of our client but of the truth,” she said. 

Kapunan made an appeal to the DOJ, which is headed by Leila de Lima, a lawyer formerly with her law firm: P’wede ba, mag-file na kayo ng case? Conditioning ‘yan eh. (Can you please just file a case? You’re conditioning the public’s mind.) Each day of delay, Mrs Napoles becomes guiltier and guiltier in the minds of the people,” she said. – Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com

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