JANET Lim-Napoles is afraid to face the Senate again to spill the beans on the pork barrel scam because this time she will have to name several senators in the scandal, her lawyer said on Thursday.
“Mrs. Napoles fears to appear there [Senate] because she will be actually implicating several members of the very same house that will investigate or would [conduct]an inquiry [into the scam],” Bruce Rivera told a radio interview.
Instead of facing the Senate blue ribbon committee, Rivera said, Napoles prefers to appear before the appropriate probe body.
“As much as possible, we want the proper investigating body where she could appear like the Office of the Ombudsman, Department of Justice or the National Bureau of Investigation,” he added.
Rivera was reacting to a call by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago for the blue ribbon panel to subpoena Napoles for her to tell all about the scam involving legislators’ priority development assistance fund or PDAF.
But if Napoles is summoned, the lawyer said they have no choice but to respect the Senate’s move.
During Napoles’ first appearance at the Senate last year, the businesswoman consistently denied having knowledge about the pork scam.
Rivera explained that Napoles was so confused and at a loss on how to deal with the Senate inquiry.
“At the time, she was hesitant [to testify]because several personalities will be involved, some [of these personalities]have influence. She was afraid,” he said.
Rivera refused to confirm whether some of those who gained from the pork barrel scam were in the same room during the blue ribbon committee hearing in November last year.
He claimed that Napoles testified in the Senate against her will but the lawyer did not say who forced her to do so.
The highest ranking official of the Catholic Church also on Thursday asked Napoles not to complicate the issue but to tell the truth instead.
In a very rare chance interview, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said the businesswoman should tell the truth behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Napoles was ready to “tell all” about the scam but that they are still evaluating if she will be allowed to turn state witness.
Tagle said Napoles should just return the alleged P10 billion in PDAF she got from the lawmakers implicated in the scam so as not to “complicate further” the issue.
According to Bishop Broderick Pabillo, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Manila and chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Napoles can tell all she knows about the PDAF scam even if she is not a state witness.
Besides, Pabillo also on Thursday said, the businesswoman “is already under the protection of the state.”
He feared that Napoles may escape liability from all charges if the government will let her become a state witness.
Palawan Bishop Pedro Arigo was appalled over what he described as “delaying tactics” of the government in its investigation of the scam, citing authorities allowing Napoles to be put effectively under “hospital arrest.”
The businesswoman is recovering from a major surgery that was performed in a government hospital on Tuesday.
Arrigo also on Thursday said the people would only believe that justice is served if the government will be able to imprison at least one of the “culprits” in the pork scam.