MANILA, Philippines – Rather than conducting multiple interview sessions with alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is instead keen on acquiring her full statement in writing.
Wanting to get the full statement as soon as possible, DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima said that Napoles’ complete testimony in writing would dispel fears Napoles is being manipulated.
“Siya na lang mag-provide, subject to our vetting. So kung i-provide nila yung buong statement in writing – kasi based naman on her personal knowledge yun – ay mas baka ma-facilitate… Walang magiging suspetsa na dinidiktahan namin or ini-influence or iniba yung story niya,” De Lima said during the launch of the country’s electronic subpoena system Wednesday, April 30.
(She should just provide, subject to our vetting. So if she provides the whole statement in writing – because it is based on her personal knowledge anyway – we might be able to facilitate… There will be no suspicions that we are dictating, influencing, or changing her story.)
Napoles on the evening of April 21 promised to tell De Lima everything she knows about the illegal siphoning of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus projects of non-governmental organizations. Security threats drove Napoles to tell all, De Lima said.
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.
Napoles submitted that night her first documented statement detailing what she knew about the PDAF scam. While she testified in the Senate about the scam, she repeatedly invoked her right to remain silent. She also refused to submit a counter-affidavit during the probe in her plunder case.
De Lima said the justice department is “still getting the rest of the statement of Mrs Napoles” but decided to look for alternative arrangements to acquire the full testimony, given her health condition.
The DOJ team was supposed to conduct multiple sessions with Napoles, after the initial DOJ-Napoles meeting. Earlier, De Lima said these “additional sessions” were meant to verify Napoles’ initial testimony.
But De Lima on Wednesday showed a change of heart, saying a full written testimony would be preferred so as not to take a toll on Napoles’ condition.
The second session was conducted after Napoles’ surgery on April 23, De Lima said. De Lima was accompanied by NBI agents and DOJ Undersecretary Jose Justiniano during her initial meeting with Napoles.
While heavily criticized for even considering Napoles as a possible state witness in the cases related to the scam, De Lima earlier said it would be an “abdication” of her “duty as a truth-seeker” not to listen to Napoles. (READ: DOJ suspends judgement on Napoles testimony)
She also said there might be details about the PDAF scam that were known only to Napoles, and not to current witnesses in government’s custody. She, however, said there is “no conflict so far” between Napoles’ testimony and that of the whistleblowers’. (READ: DOJ: Some solons may have dealt directly with Napoles)
No changes in Napoles’ list
De Lima said Napoles has not added anyone in the controversial list of individuals she has transacted with in relation to scam. The list was submitted to De Lima during their first session.
The list quickly became the subject of speculation and concern among lawmakers, with most of them crying black propaganda.
De Lima earlier said she is not bowing down to pressure from certain lawmakers to release the list, given an agreement between the DOJ and Napoles’ camp to keep mum until further evaluation by the justice department.
With Senator Franklin Drilon demanding that the list be released only when compelling paper trail backs it up, De Lima reassured the public that Napoles indeed preserved documentary evidence.
The PDAF scam was revealed by principal whistleblower Benhur Luy, who was rescued by National Bureau of Investigation agents in March 2013. Luy was allegedly illegally detained by Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim.
The DOJ is set to file the third batch of cases in relation to the scam. De Lima said the duplication of documents for the filing is taking time, but confirmed Wednesday the cases will be filed the following week.
Napoles currently faces a plunder charge over the PDAF scam, an illegal detention case involving Luy, and a property forfeiture case over the assets she allegedly acquired through the scam. – Rappler.com