De Lima: Napoles ready to confess all

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- Detained businesswoman Janet Napoles has decided to narrate everything she knows about the multi-billion pork barrel scam she allegedly masterminded, said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

The businesswoman allegedly gave kickbacks to lawmakers who chose her fake non-government organizations as implementers of ghost projects under the Priority Development Assistance Fund (Pdaf).

De Lima declined to dish out on Tuesday details of the affidavit executed by Napoles during their five-hour meeting on Monday night as respect to an agreement with the businesswoman's lawyer.

However, she is not closing her doors to the possibility of endorsing the businesswoman as state witness to the Office of the Ombudsman, which will act as prosecutor in the cases once they reach the Sandiganbayan.

Napoles has documents to back up her claims, De Lima said, and she confirmed the participation in the scam of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., her co-accused in the plunder charges pending before the Ombudsman.

"My only commitment was to evaluate, study, and validate her statements very seriously and exhaustively, so we will know our next steps such as her becoming a state witness," de Lima said.

She said Napoles decided to tell all for the sake of her security.

De Lima related that Napoles decided to tell all for the sake of her security, ending months of silence and denial to her involvement in the corruption of the lawmakers' Pdaf.

"She (Napoles) was tearful. She was clutching a rosary," the Justice Secretary said while recalling her meeting with Napoles at the Ospital ng Makati, where the latter is confined to undergo a surgery to remove a cyst found in her uterus.

The meeting was a culmination of days of correspondence between de Lima and Napoles' emissary.

De Lima said Napoles expressed her intention to speak up about the scam before the Holy Week.

But before she granted Napoles' request, De Lima told the emissary that the businesswoman should not confide the information to other people and must tag everyone involved regardless of political color.

De Lima also made it clear to Napoles that there is no guarantee that she will be turned state witness, whose requirements include that the accused should not be the most guilty of the crime and that the testimony is vital to convict the masterminds.

"Independently of whether or not she will qualify (as state witness), ang pinaka-objective po dito ng DOJ and the Executive department is truth seeking, to search for the truth in this whole Pdaf issue. Remember the Supreme Court directed all investigative agencies of the government to investigate Pdaf-related cases," de Lima told reporters, adding her visit was cleared with President Benigno Aquino III.

De Lima said a team from the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation will continue to gather more information from Napoles.(Sunnex)

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