DOJ urged not to forge any deal with Napoles-A A +A
Monday, May 26, 2014
SENATORS said justice should roll accordingly, as they urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) not to enter into any deal with the alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles.
This is in reaction to the possibility of reducing the sentence or immunity for her children after Napoles reportedly requested DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima not to implicate them.
De Lima reportedly said the charges against Napoles children are likely to be reduced to graft instead of plunder. A graft complaint allows bail to offenders.
"I don't think it is right for Secretary de Lima to do that. Everything must be based on evidence and participation," Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said in an interview.
Cayetano also insisted on the need for Napoles to face the Senate as well as whistleblower Benhur Luy and even former senator now rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson.
"They have the nerve to accuse the people. Dapat they can prove that with sufficient evidence. Kasi ako, I will face them here and I want them to bring all the documents that will support their claims," Cayetano said when being interpellated on the floor by Senator Jinggoy Estrada.
Senate Blue Ribbon committee chairperson Teofisto Guingona III, according to Cayetano, must allow a free flowing discussion in order for the truth to come out.
Cayetano said it is very alarming to note that Napoles is seemingly getting away with the pork barrel scam and those that she decided to implicate will be the one to do a lot of explaining.
“Nalalayo na tayo sa katotohanan. Tsismis becomes truth, and the accused has become the accuser," Cayetano said.
Senator Cynthia Villar, whose husband former Senator Manuel Villar, is also being implicated said the rule of law must prevail.
"Why will we give them such privilege? If the law will find them guilty, then they should be answerable," Villar said.
Villar described Napoles as a liar, saying her integrity is now questionable after she lied under oath.
Benhur Luy, the prime whistleblower in the pork barrel scam, earlier accused the children of Napoles, namely, Jo Christine and Jame Christopher, of forging the signatures of the "ghost beneficiaries" of the Malampaya fund and other liquidated documents.
According to Luy, when Napoles was out of their house, Christine was the one receiving the money intended for the fake non government organizations (NGOs) of her mother.
Senator Bam Aquino said as far as he is concerned, it is a big "no" considering the participation of the Napoles children.
Aquino said he cannot imagine giving the children of Napoles immunity or reducing the charges when they were the ones forging the signatures of Malampaya fund ghost beneficiaries.
“Testimonies show that they are major participants in this scheme and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and not be treated with kid gloves,” Aquino said.
Estrada said the government must seriously consider grilling the relatives of Napoles, as he asked that other NGOs should also be investigated by the government.
"There were about 82 NGOs mentioned, why only 8 were tackled by this administration. If the present administration is really sincere and serious, they have to conduct a fair and square investigation to all these NGOs," said Estrada.
Napoles faces plunder charges for allegedly conspiring with top officials to funnel lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to her bogus NGOs in exchange for millions of pesos in kickbacks.
Napoles’s lawyer Bruce Rivera said the affidavit containing the scam’s transactions from 2000 to 2009 is now in the hands of the Blue Ribbon committee and De Lima.
The affidavit is around 30 pages long, as Napoles maintained her request for the DOJ to endorse her as state witness to the Office of the Ombudsman and secure immunity from charges.
"She is not the least guilty but definitely she is not the most guilty," Rivera said.
The previous deadline for submission was May 22 until De Lima asked for an extension until Monday for Napoles to submit the affidavit, citing Napoles's medical condition.
In a letter, De Lima appealed to Guingona not to disclose the contents of Napoles's testimony.
"[T]he benefits, if any, of prematurely publicizing Mrs. Napoles's statements/allegations is far outweighed by the benefit that the nation will obtain from a thorough investigation that would help separate the verified facts from the unsupported allegations," she said.
She warned that premature disclosure could "ultimately compromise the success of the ongoing investigation and prosecution of the cases already filed and those to follow."
"In any case, all will be made known to the public at the right time," De Lima said.
Some senators opposed De Lima's request.
"We have to show everything to the public right away. We should not hide anything. Let the public decide and let those being implicated answer,” Cayetano said.
Villar said that the affidavit should be released to detail the specific allegations against the officials, and to give them a chance to respond.
She said she will be filing libel charges against Napoles and Luy based on their affidavits. (Camille P. Balagtas/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)