Palace defends Napoles transfer

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A Palace official on Monday defended the way the government handled the transfer and detention of Janet Lim-Napoles, the businesswoman who allegedly orchestrated the P10-billion pork barrel scam,

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Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on a press briefing that the government is just doing its job to secure Napoles’ safety as there are people who “will do good  for them to see her dead rather than alive.”

“But, if you are Janet Napoles, you know a lot of things about the scam, you have transacted with a lot of government officials—it will do good for them to see you dead than alive, and the government would like to see her alive than dead, what would you do?” Lacierda asked.

“Shouldn’t government err on the side of caution? We all know that she is a central figure in this case, shouldn’t we be more cautious?”

Napoles is the key personality in the P10-billion pork barrel scam who transacted with several lawmakers to put a portion of their priority development assistance fund (PDAF) to her bogus non-government organizations.

She was transferred to Fort Sto. Domingo—the previous detention of former president Joseph Estrada and Muslim leader Nur Misuari—in Laguna on Sunday morning with a heavily-armed convoy, a kind of security that is usually given to state witnesses.

Lacierda said that the security given to Napoles during her transfer is not overkill, referring to a comment made by host and comedian Joey de Leon on Twitter.

“Did you see the selfie photo of Pope Francis? No security. Did you see the transfer of Napoles? Overkill. The POPE is less guarded than the PORK,” de Leon tweeted on Sunday.

“One said that it’s overkill. I said earlier in the morning, where do you draw the line that it is and it is not overkill?” Lacierda said. “We will be criticized for—if something happens to Janet Napoles.”

Lacierda did not say if the government has already confirmed the threats to Napoles’ life as raised by her legal counsel lawyer Lorna Kapunan.

“People are free to criticize the manner of protecting her, but on our side, we are accountable to the people. We will get criticized but we’d rather be criticized doing our job than being criticized for not doing our job,” he added. JHOANNA BALLARAN

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