By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday lamented the government’s “special treatment” of supposed pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles for considering her to be a state witness.
Poe, in a statement, criticized the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to place Napoles under the Witness Protection Program (WPP).
“The government’s Witness Protection Program is there to protect and secure the qualified witnesses, so we can conclude the case. Bakit kailangang bigyan ng special treatment ang isang tao (Why the need to give one person some special treatment)?” she said.
The senator maintained that there are requisites before the so-called “queen” of the pork barrel controversy can be admitted as a state witness.
Most notable of these requirements, she said, are that the accused does not appear to be the most guilty, and that there is no other direct evidence available for the prosecution.
Poe, however, argued, “How can Janet Lim Napoles NOT appear as most guilty when she has been identified as the ‘pork barrel queen’? The pieces of evidence against her even led to the indictment and detention of several high profile public officials.”
As for seeking further evidence, Poe said, “Tinamad na naman ba ang prosekusyon sa pagkalap ng mga ebidensya (Did the prosecution feel lazy again in gathering evidence)?”
“Mahirap masanay sa pagdepende na lamang sa testimonya ng mismong kriminal upang pagtakpan ang kawalang abilidad ng gobyernong lumikom ng ebidensya at magpalakas ng kaso laban sa kriminal (We should not get used to depending on testimonies of the criminal herself to cover up the government’s inabililty to gather pieces of evidence and strengthen their cases),” she added.
Napoles is facing multiple counts of plunder and graft charges before the Sandiganbayan for her involvement in the alleged misuse of the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which also implicated lawmakers.
Her legal counsel Stephen David told the anti-graft court Monday that there had been a “discussion” with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea regarding their camp’s appeal to have her transferred to the DOJ’s custody.
Medialdea, on Tuesday, however, denied giving legal advice to David. The Palace had also said President Duterte had no hand over Napoles’ admission to the WPP.