A lawyer of Janet Lim-Napoles on Wednesday said the P10-million bounty Malacañang put up for her client was an ill-advised move.
“Are they preventing Mrs. Napoles from telling the truth?” lawyer Lorna Kapunan said.
She said the President was ill-advised when he announced the reward. “Sadly, the advisers of the President have convinced him to issue this reward money,” she added.
It would have been better for the President to assure Napoles, who as a citizen is protected by the Bill of Rights in the Constitution, to presume her innocence until she is proven guilty, Kapunan said.
She also questioned the government’s treatment of Napoles as a dangerous fugitive.
She pointed to the statement attributed to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima that Napoles could be armed and moving around with bodyguards.
“It’s like a shoot-to-kill order because of that statement of the justice secretary that she is heavily armed, so what is going to prevent anyone who wants to silence her forever for saying that she has resisted arrest when they see her?” Kapunan said.
“Instead of encouraging her to come forward, they are discouraging her by statements like there is a ‘nationwide manhunt, shoot-to-kill, citizen’s arrest. We have Interpol (International Police), we have reward’. Is this an inducement for her to surrender? No,” she said.
She said the government’s moves only imply that it is trying to silence Napoles.
The lawyer also denied that Napoles had slipped out of the country.
“She is here. She will never escape. She has nothing to hide. She would never leave this country until her name is cleared. If you can tell us how she can surrender without any threat to her life, she is willing to come out,” Kapunan said.
Kapunan said that even before the anti-pork barrel demonstration at Rizal Park on Monday, they had sent surrender feelers to Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, but he never responded.
“He did not respond. We understand, that maybe, this is because of the principle of the separation of Church and state,” he said.
According to Kapunan, the investigation of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Inter-agency Graft Coordinating Council should focus on the personalities who want to silence Napoles.
“Who are these people who would benefit from keeping Mrs. Napoles silent forever? That should be their lead,” she said.
Kapunan also questioned the freeze order on Napoles’ assets, saying her children and the family are the ones gravely affected.
A total of 107 bank accounts of Napoles, her children, and relatives are covered by a six-month freeze order issued by the Court of Appeals.
“Mrs. Napoles has children going to school. Had they expected them not to eat and go to school for six months?” Kapunan added.
Napoles, she added, is obviously being singled out even though only seven of the 82 dubious NGOs mentioned by the report of the Commission on Audit (CoA) on the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds were linked to her.
“In that COA report, where were the names of the congressmen and senators who illegally benefitted from PDAF? Why is Napoles only the one being singled out?” Kapunan said.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO