JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd on Monday said alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles will remain in jail even if she is admitted to the Witness Protection Program.
The assurance came as the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court ordered Napoles released from the women’s correctional in Mandaluyong City and to the custody of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
This was because Napoles is no longer a convict, having been acquitted last week on the charge of serious illegal detention filed by relative Benhur Luy, the star witness in the multi-billion scam that siphoned off Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) of lawmakers to bogus non-government organizations.
Aguirre vowed to reinvestigate the PDAF scam cases and said there would be no “selective justice” this time.
The Cabinet official lashed out at his jailed predecessor, Sen. Leila de Lima, for running only after lawmakers who did not belong to the erstwhile ruling Liberal Party of former president Benigno Aquino 3rd.
“You can be sure that as long as I’m the secretary of Justice, we will only be guided by evidence… and there will be no selective justice like that under my predecessor,” Aguirre said in a television interview.
He pointed out that only three former senators – Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada – were indicted before the Sandiganbayan on the pork barrel scandal.
“She said she would come out with a second batch but did not…that means there was selective justice,” Aguirre said.
On Napoles, Aguirre noted that the businesswoman had been charged with plunder, a non-bailable offense.
“I want to make it clear – many people think Janet Lim-Napoles will be freed if she is admitted to the Witness Protection Program or as a state witness – she will not be freed. The cases pending in four divisions of the Sandiganbayan will not be affected,” he said in a mix of Filipino and English.
With report from REINA TOLENTINO