MANILA, Philippines – There is, for now, no reason for the lawyers of the whistleblowers in the pork barrel scam to be concerned that Janet Lim-Napoles would contradict their clients’ testimonies.
This is what Department of Justice Secretary (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima indicated on Thursday, April 24, when she spoke to reporters in Baguio City – there is “no conflict so far” between Napoles’ affidavit and that of the whistleblowers’.
De Lima said, however, that there might be details about the illegal diversion of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus non-governmental organizations that were known only to Napoles, and not to current witnesses in government’s custody.
“These might be those [lawmakers] who go straight to her (Napoles),” De Lima said in Filipino.
This may explain why Napoles has named 12 senators and more than 100 congressmen as pork scam clients – a list longer than what whistleblowers have originally produced.
The present state witnesses would not be “sidelined,” however, as they would still be needed for the validation of Napoles’ testimony, De Lima said.
With Senator Franklin Drilon demanding that the list of lawmakers implicated by Napoles in the scam be released only when compelling paper trail backs it up, De Lima reassured the public that Napoles indeed preserved documentary evidence.
De Lima reiterated on Thursday that Napoles had with her “sample documentary evidence” submitted to the DOJ to support her claims.
Napoles met with De Lima on Monday, April 21, promising to tell everything she knew about the scam. Napoles submitted her affidavit to De Lima during the meeting, including a list containing names she has transacted with over the years.
De Lima said she is “not closing the door” to Napoles becoming a state witness, given her testimony. (READ: ‘Security threats drove Napoles to apply as state witness’)
Napoles, who prior to her 5-hour meeting with De Lima was seen as the scam mastermind, has since denied being the brains behind the illegal fund diversion.
The list submitted by Napoles to the DOJ quickly became the subject of speculation and concern among lawmakers, with most of them crying black propaganda.
Former senator and now rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson said the list of names submitted by Napoles to him even prior to her meeting with De Lima filled one to two pages of a yellow pad paper. He said some of the names “validated” his suspicions but others surprised him.
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Senator Francis Escudero called on De Lima and Lacson to release the list, saying they are ready to respond should their names appear on the list.
Other senators challenged Napoles to face the Senate and name names.
“When I do share with the public the list…I’ll be [the one] to say which ones are true, credible, and untrue,” De Lima said Thursday.
A day earlier, De Lima said she will never “manipulate that list,” as it would be “a betrayal of public trust.” (READ: DOJ suspends judgment on Napoles testimony)
De Lima has included as one of her conditions in meeting with Napoles her telling the whole truth and providing names involved in the scam, regardless of their political loyalties.
Weight of affidavit
The affidavit submitted by Napoles during her meeting with De Lima is her first documented statement detailing what she knew about the scam.
While Napoles appeared in a Senate hearing on the scam on November 7, she repeatedly invoked her right to remain silent. She also refused to file a counter-affidavit during the probe into the plunder case she faces.
The content of Napoles’ affidavit remains undisclosed, given an agreement between the DOJ and Napoles’ camp to keep mum until further evaluation by the justice department.
De Lima reassured the public on Thursday that additional sessions with Napoles would be conducted by her team to verify Napoles’ statements. De Lima was accompanied by NBI agents and DOJ Undersecretary Jose Justiniano during her meeting with Napoles.
Napoles now faces plunder charges over the PDAF scam, an illegal detention case involving pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy, and a property forfeiture case over the assets she allegedly acquired through the scam.
If admitted as a state witness, she will be immune from criminal prosecution only on the plunder case over the illegal diversion of lawmaker’s PDAF. – Rappler.com