MANILA, Philippines – After what appeared to be a cordial meeting with Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III on Thursday, May 15, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she had hoped he had exercised more prudence in handling the controversial “Napolist.”
“I had hoped that considerations of prudence would have persuaded Senator Guingona to exercise patience in waiting for the completion of the Affidavit of Mrs [Janet Lim] Napoles,” De Lima said in a statement Friday, May 16, a day after her meeting with Guingona.
The Department of Justice head appealed, through a letter addressed to Guingona, that the list be kept confidential until the submission of a narrative backing it up. Her request was apparently denied when copies of the list were immediately distributed to members of the press.
For De Lima, at this point, there is no more turning back. “But what has been done is done,” she conceded.
The subject one-page list dubbed “Napolist” contains names of people alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles implicated in the ploy to divert the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus projects of fake non-governmental organizations associated with her.
The list is duly signed by Napoles herself, who had handwritten additional names that weren’t typewritten on the list. It bears similarities with rehabilitation czar Panfilo “Ping” Lacson’s version of the list, which is unsigned by Napoles and bears no additional handwritten names.
De Lima said the list she submitted to the Senate is worthless in the absence of Napoles’ affidavit detailing how exactly the implicated lawmakers were involved in the scheme to plunder their PDAF.
“… I just hope that those who view said list takes it for what it is: a list of names… the inclusion of the other names cannot even be characterized as true or false, at this point, because we don’t exactly know what Mrs Napoles is accusing them of,” De Lima said.
The list, she added, “does not represent the truth per se.”
De Lima’s request that Guingona wait for Napoles’ affidavit before publicly disclosing the list was based on the same reasoning – that it is Napoles’ affidavit that would give credence to a plain enumeration of names.
During her meeting with Guingona, De Lima asked for a week-long extension of the deadline to submit the full affidavit of Napoles as it was still being completed.
“The DOJ made the request in the belief that another week is not an unreasonably long period of time considering that Napoles’ sworn statement is expected to cover several years of various transactions with numerous personalities.”
Escudero: De Lima started it
De Lima’s comments on Guingona’s move to release the Napolist came on the day Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero criticized her for turning over the list to the Senate. De Lima, however, was compelled to turn over the list after the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee ordered her to submit the documents that Napoles provided her.
Escudero said De Lima should have been more circumspect in even accepting the list from Napoles in the first place.
It was De Lima herself who disclosed to the public in a press conference on April 22 that she had met with Napoles the night before. During their 5-hour meeting, Napoles supposedly narrated to De Lima details in relation to the biggest corruption scandal to hit the country in recent years. She also denied being the brains behind it.
In the days following her disclosure that she had received the Napoles list, De Lima had been pressured to publicly disclose the names Napoles implicated.
Embattled for keeping mum over the names on the list, De Lima simply stood her ground, saying it would be reckless on her part to release the list prior to the completion of the justice department’s vetting process. – Rappler.com