Aquino cites Napoles’ inconsistencies

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

(UPDATED) PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III on Thursday said he would just allow the judicial process to determine the culpability of alleged pork barrel scam architect Janet Napoles, amid reports that she was offering to return P2-billion kickbacks from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of some lawmakers.

The Chief Executive cited Napoles camp's apparent inconsistencies on their pronouncements regarding her financial status.

"Dalawang abogado na supposedly nagre-represent sa kanya ang nagkokontrahan kung ano talaga ang alok, ano...'yung last na sinabi sa akin sa finances—o narinig ko—sa finances ni Mrs. Napoles, noong nasa Ospital ng Makati siya, inaangkin niya na wala siyang pondo pambayad doon sa ospital. Pero ngayon meron siyang ibibigay sa gobyerno?" he said.

A Manila court earlier issued a freeze order on Napoles' assets such as cars and bank deposits but reports say her condominium units in Makati, properties in the United States and shares of stock in some companies are yet to be frozen.

The President said that he has many other important problems to address and it would be up to the investigators to ferret out the truth involving Napoles.

"So ulitin ko lang, ano, alam ko sa finances niya inaangkin niya wala siyang kapera-pera; ngayon, 'yung mga abogado niya nagsasabing may P2-billion siyang kayang isoli. So ire-recover natin one way or the other ‘yan, ano, bahala ang ating proseso sa katarungan para malaman 'yung katotohanan at maparusahan 'yung kaukulang (salarin)," he said.

Napoles' camp denied media reports that she is willing to return P2 billion which was siphoned from government funds.

"There was never any statement that JLN offered to return P2 billion. What was being emphasized was the fact that what was charged was less than P2 billion not P10 billion. Hence, if ever there is an amount to be returned it should be based on the amount in the complaint, which is less than P2 billion," Napoles' spokesman and legal counsel Bruce Rivera said in a statement.

He added that there was never any offer from Napoles of a definite amount because it may pre-empt the government which will make conditions on her application to become state witness in PDAF cases.

The Office of the Ombudsman, however, rejected Napoles' request for immunity for not meeting the qualifications of a state witness.

"Furthermore, Napoles appears to be among the most guilty of all respondents in these cases," Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said in a letter to the Napoles camp on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Aquino again rejected call to fire Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, who was also dragged into the pork barrel scam.

It was Bishop Teodoro Bacani who made the latest call for the sake of delicadeza.

"'Pag bukas binanggit ako ni Napoles dapat ba sibakin na rin ako? Ang hirap naman yata n'on," he said.

"'Yung nasa Bibliya yata, 'di ba, he who has not sinned… Siguro mas importante 'yung sa judgment: 'Judge not lest you be judged'. Pero hindi na ako mangangaral kay Bishop Bacani pero ganito lang ang punto, ano: Madami siyang in-accuse. Lahat tayo under our laws may presumption of innocence at maglabas ng pruweba," Aquino added.

In the same interview, the President admitted that he received a letter from Napoles dated April 17, 2013.
But the letter basically contained an explanation that Napoles was innocent, he said.

"Matinong negosyante sila for the past 29 years. Inaapi sila ng NBI (National Bureau of Investigation). Yon ang gist nito," Aquino said of Napoles' letter that was initially disclosed by Senator Jinggoy Estrada in a Commission on Appointments hearing on Wednesday.

Estrada is one of the two senators who were charged with plunder for alleged misuse of pork barrel.

Aquino said that Estrada could have known more as it was mentioned in Napoles' letter the name of retired General Rodolfo Diaz, the former chief of the Presidential Security Group of then President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.

"Ewan ko lang kung ito 'yung General Diaz na dating namumuno ng PSG (Presidential Security Group) noong panahon ni President Erap. So baka mas may alam sa atin si Senator Jinggoy," he said.

Aquino said he just gave the two-page "self-serving" letter of Napoles to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima since she is the one investigating the pork barrel scam. (SDR/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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