DOJ chief to reveal Napoles’ ‘pork’ list at the proper time
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Friday said she will not be pressured into prematurely revealing the list
of lawmakers and officials of government who, according to Janet Lim-Napoles, have benefited illegally from the pork barrel fund.
De Lima was reacting to calls from some senators and congressmen for her to reveal the list now to erase insinuations of political color in the planned testimony of Napoles.
Napoles is alleged to have masterminded the P10-billion pork barrel and P900-million Malampaya fund scams.
De Lima said she will only make the list public at the proper time and this will be when the verification of the information from the alleged mastermind is completed.
When it is time to disclose the contents of the list, de Lima would like to identify which are true, credible and untrue.
She said Napoles still has to undergo some sessions for “clarificatory questioning.”
The list surfaced after former Sen. Panfilo Lacson said it was given to him by Napoles’ husband Jimmy last March.
The list contains the names of all the lawmakers who were in on the scam with Napoles, Lacson said, but he refused to name them.
Aside from the two-page list, Jimmy also gave Lacson a draft of her wife’s affidavit and another document detailing the pork barrel operation, including the amounts of kickback each legislator or government official was receiving.
He also gave Lacson a USB flash disk said to contain an audio file of a telephone conversation between his wife and a man whom Lacson refused to identify.
De Lima said Napoles gave her a similar list just before Napoles had surgery last Wednesday.
On Friday, Lacson, now the rehabilitation czar, rejected the appeal of some senators to make the list public, saying Napoles is the best person to make the revelation.
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said Lacson must reveal the names so that implicated lawmakers could have the chance to defend themselves.
Senate President Franklin Drilon also favors releasing the list but cautioned that it should be accompanied by credible documentary evidence.
Lacson branded as “insane” claims of Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago that he is trying to cover up for Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, saying he had been pushing for the pork barrel’s abolition when he was still in the Senate.
Santiago had warned about a “massive psywar disinformation campaign using pork barrel kickbacks,” of which Lacson was a part.
She questioned Lacson coming up with a spurious document one month after it was handed to him supposedly by Napoles’ husband.
Santiago said Lacson’s claims are “so full of holes that it’s like a sieve.” She saw no reason for Napoles to appear again before the Senate blue ribbon committee because she is already considered “damage goods” and that her credibility has been destroyed.
“She’s [Napoles] only going to tell us all her fabricated stories,” she told reporters.
Besides Enrile, Senators Jose “ Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. were among the lawmakers mentioned by Napoles to de Lima during a five-hour meeting at the Ospital ng Makati.
But Lacson said there are at least 13 other senators and more than 100 congressmen on the list.
Malacañang also on Friday belied allegations that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, one of the President’s closest allies, “tutored” Napoles in pulling off the pork barrel scam.
“At this point, we do not know the contents of Napoles’ statement and it is unfair to speculate,” Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said in a statement.
Valte was reacting to a news report about an unsanitized version of Napoles’ testimony that pointed to Abad as the one who allegedly taught Napoles the intricacies of the scam.
House leaders from the ruling Liberal Party (LP) also doubted the supposed testimony.
“Abad was nobody in the aftermath of Hello Garci [scandal], when Napoles’ scam started and thrived. This is laughable,” Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., the LP vice chairman, said in a text message, referring to the time around 2004 to 2005 when a wiretapped phone call between then President Gloria Arroyo and then poll body Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano at the height of the 2004 presidential polls grabbed headlines.
“I have known Secretary Abad for a long time as a very dedicated and honest public servant. As such, he should be able to defend himself against such allegation,” Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., the chairman of the House justice panel, said in a text message.
“The list is just a list unless corroborated by hard evidence. Otherwise, it has no probative value. It cannot even prove that a project [funded by pork barrel]was not implemented,” Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro, who heads the House Committee on Energy, said.
For Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, linking Abad to the controversy is an attempt to divert the people’s attention away from those who have been previously implicated in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF, or pork barrel) scam.
Santiago said she has information that Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, Enrile’s former chief of staff who returned to the country last April 19, is in Cagayan, Enrile’s home province.
She added that she recently received a phone call from an anonymous source informing her of Reyes’ whereabouts.
PNA, Jefferson Antiporda, Catherine Valente And Llanesca T. Panti