THE camp of some whistleblowers in the P10-billion pork barrel scam on Monday rejected moves to tap Janet Lim-Napoles as state witness and grant her immunity from suit.
Levito Baligod, lawyer for these whistleblowers, said Napoles does not meet the requirements set by law to be considered as a state witness.
”She [Napoles] fails to meet the spirit and the letter of the law. Thus, she is not qualified to become a state witness,” Baligod told a television interview.
He said Napoles “destroyed her credibility” when she testified before the Senate blue ribbon committee during its investigation of the scam involving lawmakers’ priority development assistance fund or PDAF.
Baligod pointed out that credibility is essential when an accused is being eyed as a state witness in a case.
When Napoles appeared before the Senate panel headed by Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, senators failed to elicit vital information from her in connection with PDAF scam operations.
Explaining that a state witness is expected to help the government uncover a crime, Baligod said Napoles failed the test by refusing to cooperate with the Senate probe.
”She even said the whistleblowers are lying, making it harder for government to discover the crime,” he added.
Napoles is facing charges for her alleged involvement in the multibillion-peso scam of which she is the alleged brains.
Her lawyer Bruce Rivera said if the public wants to know the truth behind the pork scam, they should not oppose moves to consider his client as a state witness.
Rivera added that Napoles’ knowledge on the scam is wider than that of Benhur Luy and other whistleblowers.
”Luy’s group only knows about specific transactions but Mrs. Napoles knows everything about the alleged scam,” he said.
Meanwhile, Baligod said they are supporting a move of the Office of the Ombudsman to grant immunity and tap whistleblower Ruby Tuason as a state witness.
He pointed out that Tuason’s testimony before the Senate was consistent with that of the other whistleblowers.
Baligod was also in favor of Tuason’s move to return the P40 million in kickbacks that she allegedly received from Napoles, describing it as a ”good move.”
Tuason told the Senate that said she had received about P40 million in commissions from Napoles and had delivered millions more to Sen. Jose “Jinggoy Estrada and lawyer Gigi Reyes, the former chief of staff of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.
Napoles may find it hard to tell all about another fund scam involving Malampaya natural gas, her lawyer said also on Monday.
Rivera cited the current state of health of his client after she recently underwent surgery at the government-run Ospital ng Makati.
Once Napoles is discharged from the hospital, he said, the businesswoman will need a full bed rest, preventing her from talking to investigators from the Department of Justice (DOJ) searching for testimonies and evidence related to the Malampaya fund scam.
Once she fully recovers, the businesswoman will be brought back to Fort Santo Domingo in Santa Rosa,Laguna, where she has been held on charges of serious illegal detention filed by pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.
Rivera said although his client already told Justice Secretary Leila de Lima about the Malampaya scam in general, she is yet to get to details.
Napoles is facing plunder charges that were filed against her by the National Bureau of Investigation before the Office of the Ombudsman last October over the Malampaya fund scam.
In filing the case, the NBI had alleged that the businesswoman and her staff forged signatures of mayors in pocketing Malampaya funds through ghost projects.
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said somebody is protecting Napoles because aside from the alleged special treatment that she is enjoying, she is also being allowed to manipulate the pork barrel scam in her favor.
If Napoles is really serious in revealing everything about the scam, according to Cayetano, she should just call a news conference and tell everything.
“For me, definitely somebody is protecting her. Why [is it that]until now she is not transferred to an ordinary jail? Why is she given that kind of a treatment? So there is a powerful person behind her and that is clear to me,” Cayetano told reporters.
But he said he has no idea on who that person is.
Cayetano’s fellow senators—Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr.—have joined the call for the DOJ to make a supposed Napoles list public so that the truth will finally come out.
The list given to de Lima by Napoles is said to contain names of those who got kickbacks from their pork barrel from the businesswoman.
“They already announced that there is a list, so [they]might as well show it to the people, the people deserve the truth,” Revilla said during a chance interview.
When asked about a supposed signature campaign calling for the resignation of lawmakers implicated in the pork barrel scam, he said he would rather wait for the court’s decision on the case.
“I have been saying from the start that I will leave everything to God, and I will accept whatever will be the verdict of the court,” Revilla also told reporters.
Estrada is also hoping for the list to be released to the public even as he suspected about the possibility of it being sanitized.
Former senator and now rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson earlier warned that he would release a copy of a list similar to that in de Lima’s possession and also entrusted to her by Napoles if DOJ releases a different or an incomplete list.
Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile is also included in the plunder complaint pending before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Some current and former legislators are also under fire from the Office of the Ombudsman over the PDAF scam.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales also on Monday subpoenaed records of Isidro Ungab of Davao City, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, and those of four former legislators in connection with the scam—Prospero Pichay Jr. of Surigao del Sur, Edgardo Chatto of Bohol, Arthur Pingoy of South Cotabato and the late Rep. Guillermo Cua of Cooperative-National Confederation of Cooperatives.
Ungab is a member of the ruling Liberal Party headed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Pichay was removed from his post as chairman of Local Water Utilities Administration for grave misconduct in July 2011 over alleged unlawful disbursement of P480 million of LWUA funds to invest in Express Savings Bank Inc. based in Laguna province.
Ungab is on his last term as Davao City representative while Pichay was a House member from 1998 to 2007.
WITH LLANESCA T. PANTI