Alleged pork barrel scheme mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles has hired a new lawyer for her plunder case.
Napoles’ longtime counsel Fred Villamor said the camp of Napoles has been finalizing an agreement with the new lawyer to represent her in the plunder complaint filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Villamor refused to name the new lawyer, who he said is still in the United States.
“Presently, she (Napoles) doesn’t have a lawyer, but she is talking to someone. I’m not at liberty to divulge it right now,” he said.
Villamor replaced Lorna Kapunan who was handling the serious illegal detention case Napoles faces at the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC).
Villamor said the new lawyer will not arrive in time to assist Napoles during her appearance at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on Thursday.
He said he begged off from assisting Napoles in the Senate hearing because he only agreed to handle the serious illegal detention case.
“We have talked about it and Mrs. Napoles understands why I don’t want to be involved in the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) issue,” he added.
Sen. Teofisto Guingona, Blue Ribbon chairman, has rejected Napoles’ request to postpone the hearing because she does not have a lawyer and asked the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) to provide her with one.
Napoles, who is detained without bail at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, since September 1, is expected to be confronted by the whistleblowers in the pork barrel fund scam during her appearance at the Senate.
Napoles and senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla on September 16 were charged before the Ombudsman with plunder for the alleged misuse of the PDAF, which was allegedly channeled to fake non-government organizations (NGOs) Napoles set up.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO