According to her lawyer Lorna Kapunan, high-profile fugitive Janet Lim Napoles is not in hiding and is, in fact, ready and willing to surrender anytime. The only request she is making is that the government should guarantee her safety.
Napoles doesn’t even have to ask. For sure, she will be protected like few suspects before her. The Aquino administration wants nothing more than to charge her (for plunder) and make sure that she ends up in prison (for life).
Were anything to happen to Napoles, suspicions will be rife that she was rubbed out in order to prevent her from revealing the names of all the government officials involved in the pork barrel scam.
Heaven forbid, therefore, that anything untoward were to happen to this brilliant “businesswoman” who amassed billions and whose family’s lifestyle rivals that of the country’s taipans.
It is safe to presume that once she surrenders, she will have other requests. For one, she will most likely seek hospital arrest, not unlike Gloria Macapagal Arroyo or Joseph Estrada after they were charged with high crimes. But in the case of both former presidents, they did have valid health issues.
From her recent public appearances, there seems to be nothing wrong with Napoles. She looks as healthy as a bull. Or a cow. Or a pig, if you will.
Then again, she should have no difficulty finding some specialist or another who can claim that she is suffering from some undiagnosed disease that requires her confinement at the country’s best hospital for an extended period.
Following her hospital arrest, Napoles will very likely request for house arrest, also ala-Erap Estrada.
To recall, the deposed president was allowed to remain in his private sanctuary in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal while his case was being tried.
Once she surrenders—anytime soon, according to lawyer Kapunan—it will not be the end of the pork barrel scandal. If anything, it will only be the beginning of a new chapter.
It can be expected that her trial will pit the best lawyers that money can buy against a prosecution panel that will be out to earn a reputation for having put down a really big fish.
It is when witnesses are called to explain their role in the scam that fireworks can be expected. After all, some of those witnesses will be incumbent senators and congressmen who will try to prove that they had nothing whatsoever to do with Napoles’ misappropriation of public funds.
Knowing the snail’s pace of justice in the country, Napoles’s defenders can be expected to use every trick in the book, ranging from maddeningly delaying tactics, to resorting to technicalities of the law to get her off the hook, to resorting to a charm offensive to convince the public that their client is actually a misunderstood saint.
The priests who have been past recipients of her largesse can be counted upon to speak well of her. And why not? Some leaders of the Catholic Church had benefited from her substantial donations.
One thing that Philippine media can guarantee is that this extended drama will never be relegated to the inside pages.