WATCH | ‘Lahat kakasuhan’; DOJ to re-open pork scam probe but will ensure Napoles’ safety first

May 11, 2017 - 7:39 PM
Philstar file photos of Janet Lim-Napoles and DOJ chief Vitaliano Aguirre

MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte administration will re-open the investigation into the pork barrel scam because the previous administration allegedly exercised “selective justice” by punishing only a few and letting many other persons equally guilty of the racket get off the hook.

This was according to Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, who told reporters on Thursday, May 11, that the DOJ will form a new panel of investigators that would again look into the multibillion-peso racket.

After his meeting with Stephen David, the lawyer of Janet Lim-Napoles, at the DOJ office in Manila on the same day, Aguirre said that before forming the panel, the alleged pork scam queen must first execute an affidavit that would disclose all she knew about the fraudulent scheme.

But Aguirre said that before Napoles makes her sworn statement, her safety must first be ensured by transferring her to another detention cell from the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City, where she allegedly had been receiving death threats since she had expressed her intention to become a state witness.

“I told Napoles’ lawyer that I am going to talk to NBI officials if she can still be accommodated in view of the death threats,” Aguirre said, referring to the businesswoman’s request to have her transferred to a facility under the National Bureau of Investigation, an agency under the DOJ.

Asked by reporters if there was selective justice in the filing of cases against public officials and others accused in the pork scam during the Aquino administration, the DOJ chief said, “Definitely,” adding that under the present administration, the department would make sure that all of those accused in the racket would be slapped with charges.

Pag nag-investigate tayo and he appears to be guilty, kasama sila…kahit anong partido [When we investigate and he appears to be guilty, he would be included…regardless of the political party he belongs to],” the DOJ chief said.

Napoles as state witness?

Aguirre criticized his predecessor, detained Sen. Leila de Lima, for filing charges only against a few politicians while she was DOJ chief even when there were many others allegedly linked to the pork barrel scam.

“Hundreds of people appear to be responsible and yet tatlo lang nafile-an mo [you only filed cases against three persons],” said Aguirre, apparently referring to former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.

“And then…naalala ko ito siguro mga tatlong beses pinangako ni De lima next week, next batch, the next batch will be released, pero hindi na-release yon. So anong ibig sabihin no’n?,” added Aguirre.

[And then I remember, De Lima promised around three times that the list of the next batch of accused would be released but that was not released. So what does that mean?]

Asked on Thursday if the government would accept Napoles as state witness in the pork barrel case, Aguirre said it depended on the content of her affidavit and on whether she was not the most guilty of all those accused in the scam.

“We will know when she testifies,” said the DOJ chief.

Aguirre’s meeting with Napoles’ lawyer came after the Court of Appeals acquitted the businesswoman of illegally detaining Benhur Luy, her cousin and former employee, and the primary witness in the pork barrel cases during the Aquino administration.

Saycon’s meeting with Aguirre

The possible re-opening of the investigation into the scam was announced by Aguirre nearly two months after civil society leader Pastor “Boy” Saycon met the DOJ chief and accused former President Benigno Aquino III and other officials during his administration mostly from the Liberal Party (LP) of allegedly benefitting from corrupt activities by receiving payola from Napoles.

Last March 15, Saycon, secretary of the Council for Philippine Affairs, handed to Aguirre documents that he said were proofs of his claims.

Saycon said he had long been in possession of the documents but he decided not to give these to De Lima when she was still DOJ chief because it would just land on the table of Aquino and his party mates.

“These are documents I kept a while, not knowing what to do during the Aquino administration. I did not know where to file. How can I surrender it to De Lima, eh ang recipient is her boss at mga kapartido n’ya. I don’t see it as a political issue, instead a legal one,” Saycon told reporters.

Napoles’ alleged contribution to PNoy’s 2010 campaign kitty

Among the documents that Saycon turned over to Aguirre were copies of acknowledgment receipts of Napoles’ supposed 2010 poll campaign contribution to Aquino and the LP, which were allegedly signed by the former President.

Saycon claimed that the contributions were given to Aquino and his party through Napoles’ brother Reginald Lim. But he said Aquino allegedly did not include Napoles’ contribution to his 2010 campaign kitty in his statement of contributions and expenditures that he submitted to the Commission on Elections.

Kasama siya (Aquino). Maliwanag ang pirma niya doon. Tingnan mo, di ba siya ang mismong naghatid kay Napoles sa Camp Crame? Pinasundo pa niya kay Carandang sa Taguig. Naglunch pa sila. Tinago pa nila si Napoles. They can deny everything. Pero tanungin niyo ang giver,” said Saycon.

[He was included. His signature was clear in the receipts. Isn’t it that he was the one who escorted Napoles to Camp Crame? He even asked Secretary Ricky Carandang to fetch her in Taguig. They even had lunch. They even hid Napoles. They can deny everything. But you can ask the giver.]

Saycon said De Lima’s investigation of politicians allegedly linked to the pork barrel scam when she was DOJ chief was “selective” because she had absolved LP members and Aquino allies including former Department of Budget and Management Secretary Florencio “Butch,” Abad, who was allegedly the mentor of Napoles.

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