MALACAñANG on Wednesday joined lawmakers in belittling the list given by Janet Napoles to former senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, saying the unsigned affidavit was just a “mere scrap of paper.”
“The list . . . what does it prove? And given the affidavit, which is unsigned, how do we proceed with that?” its spokesman Edwin Lacierda said during a news briefing.
He noted that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has in her possession an affidavit signed by Napoles that named three senators and five congressmen who allegedly received kickbacks from their priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel disbursements.
Quoting de Lima, Lacierda said the affidavit is a “work in progress.” He added that more names will be added to the “signed” list as investigation progresses.
“It’s really a work in progress. Yes, there’s already an initial affidavit, signed and notarized by Ms. Napoles, submitted to [de Lima]yesterday [Tuesday]. But the same covers only the lawmakers in the first batch of PDAF cases already filed, and the Malampaya fund [scam],” the Palace official said.
He noted that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is waiting for the “completion of the more extended affidavit which expectedly covers the entire list.”
“It’s not DOJ/NBI [Department of Justice/National Bureau of Investigation] which is preparing it but Napoles herself, as assisted by her counsels. The President’s instruction is for DOJ/NBI to vet/evaluate her allegations and, as always, to proceed where the evidence would lead us,” Lacierda said in a text message later on Wednesday.
The signed version of Napoles’ affidavit only included the names of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
On the other hand, Lacson’s unsigned affidavit that was subpoenaed by the Senate blue ribbon committee has the names of Senators Vicente Sotto 3rd, Loren Legarda, Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, Manuel Villar, Alan Peter Cayetano, Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, Francis Escudero and the late Robert Barbers.
Sen. Miriam Santiago was not on the list submitted by Lacson, but in an interview on Monday night, the former senator said Santiago was on another list. The document also contained the names of congressmen who reportedly had dealings with the jailed Napoles, a businesswoman and alleged brains of the pork barrel scam.
Lacierda did not comment on the inclusion of Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad in the list.
“I’m not in a position to know that personally. But how does one answer allegations in an affidavit which is unsigned, which has not been sworn to? We have a process that requires an investigation, [then]it is reviewed by the Department of Justice in the case of government officials. If there’s a case, it will be passed on to the Ombudsman for further evaluation. And at which point, the Ombudsman will decide whether to file a case before the Sandiganbayan,” Lacierda, a lawyer, explained.
The Palace official said for the Napoles affidavit to have credibility, it should be finished and signed or subscribed to by her.
“Yesterday [Tuesday], media [were]putting out snippets of an affidavit which used to be unsigned. But accusations are not proof. We have seen in the criminal process, he who alleges must have proof . . . ,” Lacierda pointed out.
Now that de Lima’s affidavit has been signed, he said, the DOJ will investigate and evaluate it to determine if it has merit.
“That’s the entire purpose of the investigation proper. It’s easy to accuse, it’s easy to point a finger . . . We’re identifying how is that list correlated to whatever documental evidence there is,” Lacierda also explained.
Abad said what Lacson turned over to the Senate “is just a list” and warned the people against being distracted by unproven insinuations and allegations.
Former Justice secretary and now 1-BAP party-list representative Silvestre Bello 3rd said the list submitted by Lacson has no value.
“The Senate blue ribbon committee should not have accepted the list. It is unsigned, and therefore, has no probative value. It should be treated as a mere scrap of paper,” Bello pointed out in a news conference.
“The paper is not legal. It is no solid evidence . . . nonsense. Secretary Lacson knows that it has no probative value,” he said. As rehabilitation czar, Lacson carries the rank of a Cabinet secretary.
“If they want to determine the truth, they should summon Mrs. Napoles and ask her to bring her signed affidavit so she can read it before the Senate committee. She can be then questioned on the basis of that affidavit. Secretary de Lima cannot attest to the truth on the affidavit of Mrs. Napoles,” Bello added.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala also on Wednesday denied any involvement in the P10-billion pork barrel scam and threatened to file charges against people linking him to the alleged list of Napoles.
“I’m sure that I have never transacted with her [Napoles]. So they have to prove everything that they are saying against me, otherwise I will file charges against them,” Alcala told reporters.
He said he still enjoys the confidence of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, and that the President has never asked him about the issue.
“Our obligations are to providing assistance to farmers and fisherfolk. We want to focus on production, which is being asked [of me]by the President, and if I failed to hit targets, then it is time for me to go,” he added.
The DA chief said his detractors are the ones linking him to the pork barrel scam.
With Llanesca T. Panti and James Konstantin Galvez