Aquino: P10-M bounty for Napoles

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

MANILA (Updated 3:22 p.m.) -- President Benigno Aquino III announced Wednesday that the government will give P10-million reward to anyone who could provide information leading to the arrest of fugitive Janet Lim-Napoles.

"I-a-announce namin sana a little later, ano, pero dahil natanong mo na announce ko na sa inyo – P10 million ang reward for information leading to the arrest of Ms. Napoles. Para klaro ha, 10 million pesos," Aquino said in an interview at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, Pasay City where he attended the 8th East Asia Conference on Competition Law and Policy.

Janet Napoles
The Aquino administration is offering P10 million for information that will lead to the arrest of fugitive businesswoman Janet Napoles. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

Napoles was allegedly the mastermind in the pork barrel fund scam worth billions of pesos during the past 10 years. She allegedly formed bogus non-government organizations that became the beneficiaries of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel by some lawmakers who also reportedly benefited from the anomaly.

The President said that during his meeting with some Cabinet officials on Tuesday, they did not discuss any bounty for Napoles' brother, Reynald Lim, who is also a fugitive. Napoles and Lim were being hunted down for serious physical detention of Benhur Luy, the main whistle-blower in the fund mess.

Aside from the wanted siblings, Aquino said they also discussed the other high profile fugitives such as retired military general Jovito Palparan and former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron mayor Mario Reyes.

Meanwhile, Aquino further said in an interview, that Napoles should face the charges hurled against her before discussing any possibility of turning her into a state witness.

"Getting her (Napoles) as a state witness will be studied but what is important first - there's a warrant of arrest, the Executive should first serve this warrant of arrest," Aquino told reporters in an interview in Pasay City where he attended an international gathering.

He stressed the importance of bringing Napoles first in the custody of the government. Aquino also warned those coddling Napoles, saying that they could also face charges, such as harboring of a fugitive and obstruction of justice. He said that he has a "reasonable confidence" that Napoles would soon be arrested.

In a press conference, Atty. Lorna Kapunan, the legal counsel for Napoles, said that they are saddened by the president's statement on the P10-million bounty.

Napoles is still in the Philippines and "she has nothing to hide," added Kapunan.

The lawyer also denied that Napoles owned a yacht.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima admitted last week that going after the siblings is a difficult task, considering Napoles' alleged resources and deep connections in government.

She said even the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is not totally convinced that setting up a reward will help in the manhunt operations.

"Karamihan sa kanila (NBI) sinasabi nila na hindi na daw kailangan. Kasi kung P1 million o P2 million, peanuts lang yan if we think of the resources of the subject," De Lima told reporters.

She cited the case of the top five fugitives, including suspected human rights violator Jovito Palparan and brothers Joel and Mario Reyes, who have yet to be arrested despite the P2-million reward for information that will lead to their capture. (SDR/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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