An “error” committed by the Office of the Ombudsman in filing an “inappropriate” case of plunder against Janet Lim-Napoles may favor the alleged pork barrel mastermind because it may bolster her claim that she is not the “most guilty” and is, therefore, qualified for state protection as witness.
According to a lawyer involved in the pork barrel scam case, Napoles’ camp will likely feast on the failed bid by the Ombudsman’s Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) to amend the complaint for plunder, which technically takes away the center of gravity from Napoles.
“I wish not to be quoted but we were surprised. The Ombudsman was tasked to file the information. The last touch and last call was the Ombudsman’s,” the source told The Manila Times.
The OSP wanted to amend the complaint because the law against plunder does not apply to private individuals such as Napoles. The move, which was denied by the Sandiganbayan, would have, in effect, put most of the blame on the lawmakers who are respondents in the same case.
Even Malacañang was in a quandary, as officials distanced themselves from the supposed oversight by the Ombudsman.
“Better ask the Ombudsman. They filed the information,” its spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a text message.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the executive, particularly the Department of Justice (DOJ), had no hand in the filing of the case at the Sandiganbayan and that the bid to amend the complaint was “well within the rules of court that allow the prosecution to present its case in the manner it deems best consistent [with]its duty and mandate.”
The official said the DOJ should not be blamed because state prosecutors and investigators have “done their homework” diligently.
“The point is that the Office of the Special Prosecutor did its mandate which is beyond the scope of the executive branch. And we know that the Office of the Ombudsman is an independent constitutional body,” Coloma explained.
“The DOJ conducted a thorough investigation. They submitted the product of their case build-up to the Office of the Ombudsman. The Office of the Ombudsman conducted its own process. That’s why we maintain that the concerned agency of government did what they had to do. They did their homework. They dedicated enough time to study the merits of the case before it is brought before the court,” he said.
Coloma added that the Ombudsman is now the one calling the shots.
“It’s no longer in the hands of the administration. No longer with the executive,” he pointed out.