First, there were insinuations that she cut a deal with 97 mayors implicated in the Malapaya fund scam to spare them from prosecution if they endorsed her senatorial bid.
Now a senator is hinting that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is acting like a lawyer for suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
De Lima’s decision to personally submit Napoles’ list of legislators and government officials linked to the scam to Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd on Thursday did not sit well with Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero.
“Secretary de Lima is acting like a lawyer for Napoles, submitting to the Senate [the list], instead of the lawyer of Napoles submitting the list to the Senate,” Escudero said in an interview on ANC.
Escudero noted that the Justice secretary did not need to personally deliver the document to the Senate committee. Her doing so makes it appear that she is counsel for Napoles, who is facing a plunder case in connection with the country’s biggest corruption scandal.
“Is there already a deal between de Lima and Napoles? Why is she acting like a lawyer and going to vetting the affidavit, drafting the affidavit, typing the affidavit. It should be the lawyer’s draft,” he said.
Escudero is among the 10 incumbent senators whose name appears on both the signed and unsigned lists submitted to the Senate blue ribbon committee.
He said he received information that Napoles’ camp also offered her supposed documents to the Office of the Ombudsman, but the anti-graft body turned the offer down and instead asked Napoles to submit an affidavit.
Escudero added that the Department of Justice (DOJ) should have acted similarly and not allow itself to be used by Napoles as a medium to validate her stories.
“It’s not for the DOJ to validate and verify [the Napoles documents]. What if they [DOJ] found out [the are]not true? Can they actually go back to Napoles and tell her to change her affidavit? They cannot do that. If Napoles included lies in her affidavit, let it stand true or false based on its content,” he said.
Another senator, Miriam Defensor Santiago, said she is studying the filing of disbarment proceedings against lawyer Levito Baligod, who earlier admitted being the one who drew up the list of Benhur Luy, the principal scam whistleblower.
“If there is any justice in this world, Baligod and his backers should be drawn, quartered and their severed heads hung from the highest Rizal Park flagpoles,” Santiago suggested.
She said that based on Baligod’s own admission, he was the one who concocted and distributed the list and should take responsibility for it.
“Under the Penal Code, libel is defined as a public and malicious imputation of a crime ‘such as bribery] which tends to cause the dishonor and discredit of any person, and therefore Baligod is guilty of libel,” Santiago added.
Santiago also wants both the lawyers of Luy—Baligod and Raji Mendoza—to be called to the Senate hearing on the pork scam, together with Luy, to settle the criminal responsibility for the Luy list.
The senator early last week called on the Senate blue ribbon committee to get the Luy list, which according to her is substantiated by documents and details.
Santiago had a change of heart after learning that her name was on the Luy list published by a major daily.
Some members of the House of Representatives said the lists drawn up by Napoles and Luy are self-serving, if not insufficient.
“The credibility of any list, affidavit or any statement could not be determined until the same is presented or made under oath in court, and subjected to cross-examination by the adverse party. Until such time, everything is self-serving!,” Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Farinas said in a text message to The Manila Times.
“The Napoles list is far from a clear convincing evidence that would warrant conviction. As for Luy’s account, it is still unsubstantiated. We need direct testimony on where [the]money really went and if these people gained from it,” Rep. Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro said in a phone interview.
“These are just lists that need to backed by hard evidence,” Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said in a text message.
With Llanesca T. Panti