DESPITE President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s opposition to making Janet Lim Napoles a state witness, a powerful clique within the administration appears bent on “using” the businesswoman to their political advantage.
A reliable source said Napoles can be used to clear the names of administration party members who were dragged into the controversy.
“Malacanang itself announced that it was waiting for the affidavit of Napoles. How come? There is strong suspicion that someone other than the President is manipulating everything,” a highly placed source privy to the case told The Manila Times.
According to him, the “clique” is being led by a powerful official who dreams of becoming president in 2016. Already, the official’s tentacles have reached the Department of Justice (DOJ), where the witnesses in the P10-billion priority development assistance fund (Pdaf) or pork barrel scam are being secured.
The source also claimed that the leader of the group is “moving on his own” and “without presidential imprimatur.”
President Aquino had said Napoles cannot qualify as a state witness because she is not the least guilty. Lawyers for the witnesses said Napoles may not be the only mastermind in the scam but she is definitely a principal player, being the “corruptor” of public officials.
“Even if she told the truth, that will not make her the least guilty,” The Times source said.
Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad has also claimed that the camp of Napoles implicated him and other government officials in the pork barrel scam in an attempt to blackmail Malacanang to approve her request for immunity.
On Sunday, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said there is no timetable for Napoles to submit her latest affidavit to the Justice department and the Senate, which issued a subpoena last week.
“Secretary Leila de Lima has time and again clarified that all of these are in line with the search for truth and in accordance with the standards of justice,” Coloma added over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
The Palace official maintained that they treat the case with caution and all evidence that will be presented must stand in court.
He said the DOJ and state prosecutors continue to take the lead in handling the case.
Sandra Cam, who heads a group of whistleblowers, bolstered suspicion that some government officials are manipulating the issue as she criticized de Lima for her alleged selective release of the names of those involved in the PDAF scam.
At the weekly forum at the Balitaan sa Hotel Rembrandt in Quezon City over the weekend, Cam said de Lima knew from the start that there were many lawmakers allegedly involved in the pork anomaly but she kept the information under wraps.
According to Cam, the DOJ seemed to have manipulated the list because only three senators — Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. – were charged.
“Stop the selective justice and justice for sale under your turf,” she said, apparently in reference to de Lima.
Cam noted that when Benhur Luy testified at the Senate blue ribbon committee, he did not mention names but made references only to Tanda, Seksi and Pogi.
“[But] the next day, de Lima said she will prosecute the three senators though their names [are]yet to be mentioned by the whistleblowers,” she said.
Activist Argee Guevarra also on Sunday called on Aquino to stop coddling Abad, Senate President Franklin Drilon and Technical Skills Development Authority Secretary General Joel Villanueva.
Guevarra and his group, Scrap Pork Movement, said all individuals included in the “Napolists” should be investigated.
Meanwhile, the camp of Luy confirmed the existence of a hard disk drive containing Napoles’ transactions but clarified that the data contained in it must first pass Luy’s scrutiny.
Raji Mendoza, Luy’s legal counsel, told The Times in a phone interview that Luy can only affirm the existence of the disk but not its content because it could have been recopied or manipulated.
Mendoza presented a handwritten statement to a national daily that has been publishing supposed files by Luy.
“The last sentence [in the statement]is essential because as Benhur has acknowledged only the existence of the database and the fact that the [Philippine Daily] Inquirer had copied it, the data [are]yet to be authenticated by Benhur,” the lawyer said.
The Inquirer has been publishing a series of reports for the past 12 days involving new names involved in the pork barrel issue.
The second paragraph of the statement says “Benhur further confirms the existence of his hard drive which was at that time given to Atty. Baligod by Benhur’s parents for safekeeping.”
“The contents of Benhur’s hard drives were shared by former counsel, Atty. Levito Baligod, with the PDI to support the allegations against the Napoles group. PDI reproduced the same copies,” Mendoza said.