Napoles wants to be state witness – De Lima
MANILA, Philippines – Alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles has finally agreed to “tell all” about the controversy and turn state witness, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Tuesday, April 22.
De Lima made the statement in an interview with ABS-CBN at the Ospital ng Makati after talking with Napoles, who is confined at the hospital and is due to undergo surgery to have a myoma removed from her uterus that night.
“She sent feelers before the Holy Week. She said she’s ready to speak up, she’s ready to tell all and would execute an affidavit. That’s why we took her statement now. I agreed to talk to her on those conditions that she should tell all she knows about the PDAF scam,” De Lima said.
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The justice secretary said, however, that, she did not give Napoles any guarantee that she can become a state witness as she would have to evaluate the affidavit first.
“There is no guarantee for her to be a state witness because we need to evaluate first thoroughly her statement,” De Lima said.
She said Napoles was apparently prompted to execute an affidavit as she was to undergo surgery that night.
“When you go through a medical procedure anything can happen. That’s why she insisted, she really pleaded to talk to me,” De Lima said.
According to Napoles lawyer Bruce Rivera, De Lima visited his client at around 10 pm on Monday, April 21. He was present during the visit.
"Matagal nang gusto ni Mrs Napoles na makausap si (for some time now, Mrs Napoles has been wanting to talk to) De Lima so I facilitated the meeting,” Rivera said in a phone interview with Rappler. He declined to elaborate.
De Lima is expected to give other details of the meeting, which reportedly lasted for 5 hours, in a news conference that afternoon.
Napoles executed her affidavit a day after Senator Jinggoy Estrada, one of the top respondents in the pork barrel scam, returned from a trip to the United States and vowed to face plunder raps against him.
On Saturday, Jessica "Gigi" Reyes, the controversial former chief of staff of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, returned to the country after spending 8 months abroad following her implication in the pork barrel scam. She has also said that she is ready to face charges filed against her.
The Office of the Ombudsman had earlier announced the filing of charges against Napoles, Reyes, Estrada, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla, and 5 others allegedly involved in the pork barrel scam.
They had allegedly pocketed a total of P597 million (US$13 million) in kickbacks and commissions from the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) of senators and congressmen from 2007 to 2009.
The Ombudsman had said that Revilla allegedly got the biggest kickback worth P242 million (US$5.4 million), followed by Enrile with P183 million (US$4 million), and Estrada with P172 million (US$3.8 million).
The multi-billion-peso scam is the biggest corruption scandal in recent Philippine history. The lawmakers are accused of siphoning off their pork barrel funds, coursed through government agencies, to Napoles’ fake non-governmental organizations in exchange for kickbacks. – with reports from Bea Cupin/Rappler.com