JUSTICE Secretary Leila De Lima allegedly pressured the prosecutor handling the case of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles into reversing a resolution clearing her of serious illegal detention charges filed by the family of Benhur Luy.
A well-placed source in the Department of Justice (DOJ) said De Lima strong-armed the National Prosecution Service, particularly State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, into filing the charges in court.
The Makati Regional Trial Court issued a warrant of arrest against Napoles and her brother, Reynald Lim, on Wednesday.
Navera, it was learned, originally decided to dismiss the motion for reconsideration filed by Luy’s camp following the dismissal of the charges against the siblings.
But the source said De Lima gave instructions to reverse the
findings of Navera.
The revised resolution indicting Napoles was signed and approved by Prosecutor General Claro Arellano.
Under the NPS Rules on Appeal, the Justice secretary will only
review the findings of the prosecutors in cases that are under review and not in the preliminary investigation stage.
”Ang original recommendation ni Navera ay idismis iyong kaso. Kaso pinuwersa ni De Lima na palitan ‘yung findings pagdating kay PG [Arellano],” the source claimed.
Besides the haste in securing the warrant of arrest against Napoles and Lim, it was likewise noted that the DOJ chief was very secretive when it came to the case, which was filed on Tuesday.
Even the lawyer of Napoles, Lorna Kapunan, on Thursday questioned the DOJ process.
“There was no clarificatory hearing in the reversal of the decision,” Kapunan said.
She the Makati court issued the warrant in haste, disregarding a pending motion before it.
“What’s the haste if there is violation of right to liberty?” Kapunan said.
She said she did not know where Napoles is.
On June 10, the DOJ dismissed for lack of probable cause the complaint the National Bureau of Investigation and Arturo Luy, Gerturdes F. Luy, Annabelle Luy-Reario and Benhur filed against Reynald and Janet.
This resolution was overturned when the department granted Luy’s motion for reconsideration.
Napoles and her brother are executives of JLN Group of Companies, which has been described as the umbrella company that engineered the plot to embezzle the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of several lawmakers.
De Lima confirmed on Wednesday the warrants of arrest were in connection with the case filed against the siblings for allegedly illegally detaining Luy, who blew the whistle in the pork barrel scandal allegedly masterminded by Napoles.
The source said Napoles’ camp got wind of the issuance of the arrest warrant because her lawyers were already in the Makati court even before it was released.
Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said De Lima created several teams to go after Napoles and her brother.
“There is a hotline. It’s being manned 24/7, so we encourage the public to inform us of the whereabouts of Ms. Napoles,” he said.
Lacierda also said the Bureau of Immigration (BI) has been alerted to prevent Napoles from leaving the country.
In Congress, a lawmaker who has been linked to the PDAF scam called on Napoles to surface and face the charges against her.
“I would appeal to her to face the case and defend herself. Flight is an admission of guilt. If you are guilty, you run away from a case,” Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said.
“How can she defend herself if she is in hiding?” Rodriguez said.
With reports from Catherine S. Valente And Llanesca T. Panti