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Napoles unaware of Benhur ‘compromise’ – lawyer


MANILA, Philippines – The meeting on Tuesday, June 3, between the lawyers of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles and principal whistleblower Benhur Luy was unplanned.

Napoles' lawyer Bruce Rivera claimed on Wednesday, June 4, it was so unplanned, in fact, that Napoles herself was not privy to why it happened and what was discussed.

According to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report, Napoles’ lead counsel Stephen David and Luy’s lead counsel Raji Mendoza met, with David asking Mendoza if Luy could drop the serious illegal detention case against his client, Napoles.

Rivera, Napoles’ counsel and spokesman, told Rappler the meeting was something nobody – Napoles, her family, or himself – knew about.

 “Ako rin nabigla when I saw the news but I was thinking: baka sila lang dalawa ang nag-usap and I was not informed,” he said. (I was also surprised when I heard the news but I thought maybe it was something between David and Napoles and I wasn’t informed.)

“We don’t know about [any negotiations with the Luy camp]. If there’s a story, if there is an insinuation… officially it came from David, not from Mrs Napoles,” added Rivera.

Jail time

Why does the serious illegal detention case matter? It’s the only thing keeping Napoles behind bars.

Napoles is currently detained at a police camp in Laguna for allegedly detaining Benhur Luy against his will from December 2012 to March 2013. It was the alleged kidnapping that prompted Luy to turn state witness, accusing Napoles of being the mastermind behind the siphoning of lawmakers' pork barrel through fake projects and dubious non-governmental organizations.

Napoles also faces plunder charges, but no arrest warrants have been issued in connection with the pork barrel scam. The serious illegal detention case, which is non-bailable, is currently being heard at a Makati Regional Trial Court.

David, who will handle Napoles’ possible plunder case is also lead counsel for the serious illegal detention case.

Rivera said David was in the National Bureau of Investigation building to check records connected to the pork barrel scam and it just so happened that Mendoza was there.

“Of course, we don’t really know. Attorney Mendoza is saying different things. We don’t know what they talked about at this point,” added Rivera.

Let bygones be bygones?

Rivera did not discount the possibility of a “reconciliation” between Napoles and Luy. Napoles and Luy are cousins, after all, said Rivera. But, he added “wala pang ganoong iniisip.” (We’re not thinking about it.)

Si Benhur, nagsasabi pa rin na he was kidnapped and we are standing by our statement na hindi. Nasaktan si Ma’am Janet, si Benhur… but in time, mafi-fix rin,” said Rivera. (Benhur is insisting he was kidnapped and we’re standing by our statement that we wasn’t. Napoles was hurt, Benhur was hurt, but in time, this will be fixed.)

But, Rivera added, reconciliation or not, the serious illegal detention case against his client and long-time friend would push through. “Later on, even if there's a reconciliation… there’s already a case being filed,” he said.

Luy had previously testified before the court, accusing Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim of psychological and mental torture in the months he was allegedly detained. Before the “kidnapping,” Luy was Napoles’ aide, personally recording all her alleged transactions.

According to witnesses presented by the prosecution during hearings for Napoles’ motion asking to be granted bail, Napoles ordered Luy “jailed” after she discovered he had his own shady dealings with government officials on the side. (READ: Napoles to Benhur: You stole my PDAF)

Rivera scoffed at the idea of the Napoles camp offering Luy a “compromise.”

“I don’t really know what compromise we can give them. The only way we can compromise is with the government, to give us a chance to air our story,” he added.

Napoles and her legal team have since submitted her affidavit on the scam in a bid to turn state witness. Luy is the principal whistleblower in the scam and is also state witness, alongside several other former Napoles employees.

Napoles surrendered to no less than the President in August 2013. Reynald Lim remains at large. –