By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The Department of Justice (DOJ) may allow businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles to spill the beans on who else benefited from the P10-billion pork barrel scam, but she cannot be declared a state witness.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel said this as he maintained that Napoles is the “most guilty” in the controversy over the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel.
Pimentel earlier described as “crazy” the certification of the DOJ to place under the provisional coverage of its Witness Protection Program (WPP) Napoles, who faces multiple plunder and graft charges before the Sandiganbayan.
Pimentel took exception to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre’s statements today, saying Napoles had a “tutor” behind the alleged misuse of the PDAF, which, he said, will be considered whether or not to fully admit her in the WPP.
“Lumalabas na merong tutor itong si Janet Lim Napoles — hindi ko po masasagot kung bakit hindi pa niya ‘yan pinangalanan — diyan natin malalaman kung qualified siya under WPP, titingnan kung may justification,” Aguirre was quoted in an interview over DWIZ.
“Para ika’y maging state witness under WPP, dapat you should not appear to be the most guilty, maaaring one of the most guilty siya, pero hindi ka dapat ang most guilty. So kung mapapatunayan natin na ang isang witness ay maraming kapantay na guilty katulad halimbawa ng mga government official, ‘yan po ay may posibilidad na siya ay maging state witness,” he added.
But Pimentel, in a separate interview this afternoon, negated Aguirre as he recalled Senate investigation in 2013 which found Napoles as the “mastermind” of the alleged misuse of the multibillion-peso PDAF which involved some lawmakers and their staff, private individuals and nongovernment organizations.
“Hindi siya ang most guilty, anong klase naman yan?…Sino ang paulit-ulit na pangalan ang lumabas? Sino ang nagbuo ng foundation? (How come she is not the most guilty? Whose name has repeatedly surfaced in the investigation? Who created the foundation used to obtain pork barrel allocations)” Pimentel said.
“Ikaw yung nagbuo ng scheme, tapos ikaw ngayon ang kakanta laban sa mga nakinabang (You orchestrated the scheme and now you will witness against those who benefited)?”
“Marami siyang biniktima — ‘kumagat kayo rito’ — tapos sumabog. ‘Ngayon ituturo ko lahat ng kumagat sa plano ko,’ is that fair?”
Pimentel said he is okay with Napoles’ reported new revelations, but reiterated that she cannot be declared a state witness, “kasi siya ang mastermind (because she is the mastermind).”
Pimentel also asked the DOJ to clarify the terms of Napoles’ inclusion in the WPP, saying it should not involve her cases relating to the PDAF scam.
“Sa PDAF hindi talaga pwedeng state witness. Hindi pwedeng most guilty ang ating papakawalan ay yung most guilty para mapakulong ang lesser guilty (If it relates to the PDAF, she should really be not a state witness. We should not release the most guilty person to send those lesser guilty to jail),” Pimentel said.
“Yumaman nang todo-todo dahil sa PDAF, hindi ba most guilty ‘yan…I hope the DOJ will review the basic theory behind their move,” he added.
Pimentel said he will support any proposal in the Senate to investigate on the DOJ’s move to put Napoles in the WPP.
The Senate chief also said he expects the Sandiganbayan to be “conscious” in its disposition on the petition of Napoles to allow her to be transferred to the DOJ custody from her detention at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Camp Bagong Diwa.
Pimentel said the Office of the Ombudsman is still the agency prosecuting Napoles and the other former government officials over the pork barrel scam, and it should agree with the anti-graft court’s decision on the proposed transfer.