Businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles is perceived to be delaying the hearing of the illegal detention case against her by repeatedly changing her lead counsel—her fourth being her spokesperson lawyer Bruce Rivera.
As whistleblower Benhur Luy arrived at the Makati Regional Trial Court on Tuesday with his mother and sister for his last day on the witness stand, Rivera puzzled everybody by saying he will be ‘taking over as lead counsel’ for Napoles.
Before Luy took the witness stand, Rivera told Makati RTC Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda that Napoles herself “convinced” him to take over the case on Monday evening.
Luy’s camp in a statement said the replacement showed that “they have no plausible defense against the crime charged. It is a sign of weakness in the defense that they cannot agree with each other. It may be a sign of desperation indicating that the JLN group is collapsing.”
Rivera admitted that he was unprepared and has not read the documents in the case.
“In all honesty, I am handicapped in this case,” he said.
But, Prosecutor Chris Garvida said Luy’s presentation had already been moved several times and that lawyer Rivera should be ready to represent his client. Alameda ordered the presentation of Luy right after.
Lawyer Stephen David, the former lead counsel, told the media he still had to confirm the change with their client because ‘this is a surprise’ to him.
When asked why David said he was not informed, Rivera said “its just a miscommunication. JLN and Attorney David already talked before, perhaps he just did not understand.”
He said Napoles’ family asked him to take over the serious illegal detention case so David could concentrate on the plunder and graft charges filed against her in the Sandiganbayan.
The serious illegal detention case was first handled by lawyer Lorna Kapunan with Alfredo Villamor as collaborating counsel.
Kapunan resigned in October last year because of differences with Villamor, who took over the case.
Months later, it was revealed in Napoles’ affidavit that he was one of her agents. Villamor was the counsel for JLN Corporation.
He slowly faded out of the spotlight as the new team of lawyers formally made their appearance in February before the Makati court during the filing of motions related to Napoles’ medical adversities.