Noy to use Napoles to persecute opposition

Source: The Daily Tribune


Noynoy.36A well-scripted wanted person with a P10-million bounty suddenly surrenders in style, with her being given the special treatment, with a Cabinet official meeting Janet Lim-Napoles, alleged brains of the pork barrel scam and brought to Malacañang to meet with President Aquino privately, and with the President personally going to Camp Crame while she was placed under the custody of the Philippine National Police, has not only raised eyebrows but has also raised the possibility of both having made a deal that would make her a “star witness” to persecute senatorial non-allies in the Senate and in the House of Representatives.

Administration critics yesterday said turning businesswoman Napoles into the government’s “star witness” translates to her being used by the Aquino administration to pin down its political opponents, perceived or otherwise and looms large as Napoles surrendered, not to court, but to the President in the Palace.

The opposition said this only validates long-held suspicions that certain personalities in the Aquino administration, including the President, maintain a strong relationship with the businesswoman.

In a statement, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary general, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, expressed fear that the idea being floated in having Napoles as a possible state witness could be used to selectively persecute political enemies of the administration.

“Give thanks to President Aquino because it was he who had offered a bounty of P10 million, the reason Napoles surrendered to him a few hours after the bounty announcement,” said Tiangco adding he has been proven correct in his long standing request to give a reward money that will lead to the arrest of Napoles.

“The only problem now, is that if the witch being appointed as the witch-hunter,” he lamented.

Tiangco said the move to make her a state witness practically conceals the real story tucked beneath the floors of Congress, which according to the Commission on Audit (CoA) report involves a lot of allies of the administration and the Liberal Party.

Napoles is being held in Camo Crame in connection with the illegal detention case filed against her by Benhur Luy. Making her a star witness, Tiangco said, is the function of the courts not of the DILG (Department of Interior and local governments) or any other agency.

Interviewed by media right after Napoles had surrendered, DILG Secretary Mar Roxas mentioned the possibility of making Napoles a state witness.

“Wasn’t it enough for Napoles to surrender to Secretary (Edwin) Lacierda and that he should have brought her to the nearest Police Station? Was she handcuffed or not? Was her room with an airconditioner when she slept (Wednesday night) or was Napoles in a jail cell?

“There should be transparency and had this covered by the media Wednesday night to enable the entire nation to witness everything and not come up with a guessing game,” he said.

“But what was really puzzling is that the plunder charges have not been filed and there was (Mar) Roxas, already talking about a state witness status for her,” Tiangco stressed. “It is only the courts that can accept or reject a government state witness,” he added.

“Everyone knows that the stink of swine crap coming from the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) mess has cast doubt on the different branches of the government. Making Napoles as state witness may be seen as part of the strategy to divert the issue away from the allies of President Aquino who are included in the CoA report, and many fear that the witch hunt may expand selectively to political enemies of the administration,” Tiangco stressed.

He added that giving Napoles the state witness status is practically a submissive collaboration with the powers-that-be in exchange for special treatment.

“Imagine, Janet Napoles becoming state witness? Helloooo?! Is Mar Roxas serious about this? As I see it, it’s for the benefit of theatrics, the media, and political propaganda,” Tiangco said.

Tiangco said UNA maintains that the administration should refrain from practicing double standards and selective persecution as there are members of the ruling party who were mentioned in the CoA audit report but are still left untouched.

Vice Presidenr Jejomar Binay, in a statement said that it is good that Napoles surrendered.

“I just hope she will tell the truth and bare everything she knows so that those involved in the scam would be brought to justice and be made accountable for their transgressions to the Filipino people, regardless of their political affiliations.

As for the possibility that Mrs. Napoles considered a state witness, as a lawyer, I would say it’s too early to tell. There are requirements before a suspect is made a state witness, among these being that the evidence against the said suspect must be weak. And that has yet to be established, Binay said.

Even Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also yesterday was already justifying why even the “most guilty” can be made into a state witness.

De Lima said Napoles’ chances of becoming a state witness might increase with what testimony she can offer.
“But that would still depend on what story she will tell, especially since knowing everything is different from telling everything,” she explained. “While we cannot rule out totally or discount the possibility of having her as a state witness, it would not be that easy because she has to undergo a very incisive evaluation,” De Lima added.

De Lima said she was not surprised why Napoles opted to surrender to the Palace and requested to be under police custody. “It’s the NBI that is investigating and it is the NBI that is going after her. In fact, NBI is even a co-complainant in the serious illegal detention case filed by Benhur Luy. So I don’t think you will expect Napoles or her family to be comfortable with the NBI,” she explained.

The DoJ chief also recalled an earlier allegation of extortion by the camp of Napoles against some NBI officials and Luy’s lawyer Levito Baligod.

The NBI failed to arrest her even when her camp revealed she had only been inside Metro Manila.

The proposal to make Napoles a state witness in a fund scam that she had principally hatched earned mixed reactions from lawmakers in the administration and the opposition.

According to Rep. Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers Napoles should be charged with plunder for her involvement in the pork barrel scam. “We will not allow her to become a state witness. She should be charged by the government for plunder.”

He said, however, that it is unfortunate that Malacañang chose to turn the surrender of Napoles to Aquino into a spectacle obviously intended to benefit the 2016 presidential bid of DILG chief Mar Roxas.

“With the Napoles surrender colored by politics, can we still expect the whole truth from her, or a partial and piecemeal testimony designed for the selective demolition of the administration’s political rivals while sparing its allies?” the ACT lawmaker asked.

Three other lawmakers including Reps. Fredenil Castro of Capiz, Luz Ilagan of Gabriela and Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna aired similar views.

Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo, chairmanof the House Ways and Means Committee and ally of Aqino said that Napoles’ surrender to the president shows how eager Aquino is in finding out the truth in the pork barrel scam.“He is willing to get out of his way so that justice can be served because the issue is far too bigger than presidential protocol or tradition,” Quimbo said.

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said that Napoles’ surrender could “give way to justice through a thorough and impartial investigation that would punish the guilty and spare the innocent.”

Rep. Rodel Batocabe of the party list Ako Bicol wished that the surrender would not pacify the people and the signal the start of the investigation.

Reps. Mel Senen Sarmiento of Western Samar and Jorge Banal of Quezon City also allies of Aquino said that the surrender of Napoles is “ welcome news.”

For Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Napoles could become state witness.“If she would disclose everything, it would be easier on the part of the government to discover the truth and have sufficient evidence for the conviction of the politicians involved,” Barzaga said.

Barzaga explained that his position could have far reaching consequences including the conviction of high officials in government and that part of the deal would include the voluntary surrender of all her assets to the government.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate also expressed apprehension that the Napoles incident may lead to a “political witch hunt.”

“There is a perception now that this latest incident on the Napoles saga will be followed by a political witch hunt, with Napoles as the main weapon, against members of the opposition and other personalities not aligned with the interest of the Aquino administration,” the solon claimed.

“Will there be any credible investigation in the corruption web spawned by the Napoles scandal, under these circumstances? That is the biggest question now!” he stressed.

More than ever, Zarate said the people must be more vigilant against the possible “whitewashing” of this multi-billion scandal, particularly, by sparing those individuals associated with the administration.

“This Napoles drama should not also distract the people from the real issues confronting the ambivalent Aquino administration: the abolition of the entire legislative and presidential pork barrel system — the cause of the massive and institutionalized corruption in our country, which the Aquino administration is still brazenly defending,” the Bayan Muna solon said.

The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said that despite the so-called surrender of Napoles to Aquino, the Filipino people’s clamor for the abolition of the pork barrel system cannot be diffused.

“Aquino and his spin doctors have exploited the feelers sent by Napoles’ camp, immediately hatched an ill-designed script for the so-called surrender to the President himself up by the Pork Barrel Queen,” Echanis said.

“The Queen will never surrender to anyone but to the King,” he stressed.

By Charlie V. Manalo, Benjamin B. Pulta and Gerry Baldo

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VIP treatment shows Napoles surrender staged by Palace

Written by Tribune
Friday, 30 August 2013 08:00
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Special treatment was all over the supposed surrender of pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim Napoles to President Aquino leading many to suspect that the spectacle was all staged amid a growing protest directed at the misuse of government funds, including Aquino’s own discretionary funds.

Militant groups and those who were part of the massive protest at the Rizal Park last Aug. 26 raised the possibility that the whole affair, from the surrender to the the deferred transfer of Napoles to a regular jail, was scripted.

Napoles allegedly connived with legislators to embezzle P10 billion in funds intended for development projects surrendered directly to President Aquino after Aquino himself revealed a P10 million bounty on the fugitive.
Napoles turned herself in to Aquino late Wednesday and asked for the president’s protection.
“The president turned her over to the custody of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief director general Alan Purisima at the PNP headquarter in Camp Crame for processing and booking,” Aquino’s office said in a statement.
Roxas said Napoles, who had previously denied the allegations, had asked for protection from the president.
As of presstime, Napoles remained in Camp Crame with Purisima inspecting the Makati City Jail himself around 7:10 pm where Napoles was ordered transferred by the court.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) also conducted an ocular inspection of the cell where Napoles will be locked up.
The Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation, which are the lead agencies in the manhunt for Napoles, were caught flatfooted by her surrender saying they did not have details of Napoles’ yielding.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said although she has information about the alleged “surrender feelers” sent by Napoles through her lawyer, it was already late when she knew about the surrender.
De Lima claimed she only came to know about the actual surrender of Napoles when she was already in Malacañang with Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda and Aquino, which was already after the actual surrender.
Likewise, De Lima confirmed the Palace did not ask the help of the NBI in the negotiation with the camp of Napoles for her surrender.
De Lima added she was also not in the Palace when Napoles surrendered to President Aquino such that aside from the fact that she was not advised to proceed there, there was also no reason for her to go to Malacañang.
“She asked the President for assurance about her safety, so that not anyone can approach her or do what they want to her,” Roxas said.
The nature of the threat was not specified, and Aquino’s office did not say who facilitated her surrender although Lacierda claimed in a briefing it was he who had arranged with Napoles’ lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, for her to give up.
Aquino himself joined the group that brought Napoles to the police headquarters, Roxas said.
Her surrender comes three days after tens of thousands of Filipinos held a mass protest demanding her arrest and the abolition of legislators’ controversial PDAF.
The call during the protest was also for Aquino to give up almost P500 billion in discretionary funds which are being proposed in the 2014 budget.
Napoles allegedly siphoned off money through fake non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Aquino won the presidency in 2010 on a platform to end the pervasive corruption he blames for many of the country’s woes.
Among his first acts was to work for the impeachment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona who he accused of protecting his predecessor Gloria Arroyo from prosecution.
Arroyo is in detention and is now facing charges of massive corruption.
Napoles faced arrest for allegedly detaining a former aide-turned-whistleblower to keep him from revealing details of the alleged embezzlement.
However justice officials are readying additional charges that she allegedly connived with legislators to sophon off money from the PDAF.
Various groups said Aquino accepting Napoles’ surrender may have sent a wrong message.
The Center for International Law and Concerned Citizens Movement expressed their concern that the President’s decision to allow Napoles to surrender to him, while legal, may have been unwise.
“Certainly, Napoles could have surrendered herself to any policeman or to the nearest police station. She did not have to surrender to the President himself. The fact that the President allowed her to surrender to him may send a message that administrative allies may be spared from the ongoing investigation of irregularities on the spending of the PDAF,” the statement read.
“People expect Napoles to sing. The fact that she surrendered to the President may be viewed by the people as a signal that she will only implicate those in the opposition,” Prof. Harry Roque, chairman of Centerlaw and co-convenor of Concerned Citizens Movement, said.
Roque stated that the investigation into the pork barrel should include everyone most especially those in the administration.
On the other hand, militants asked the DILG and the PNP yesterday to charge Napoles with plunder and reject her as a state witness.
Gie Relova, spokesperson of the militant Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino-National Capital Region Rizal (BMP-NCRR), questioned the DILG, PNP and Department of Justice for not charging Napoles with plunder.
The militant group expressed fear that the government has struck a deal with Napoles and are planning to turn her into a state witness.
Another militant group the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) described the Napoles surrender as “Teleserye of the Year.”
The transport group also expressed dismay at the VIP treatment given by Aquino to Napoles when she surrendered.
George San Mateo, Piston national president, observed that under the Aquino administration when a wanted person is so rich and influential due to corruption of people’s money they could directly surrender to the president and will not be put in a regular jail.
He said the surrender of Napoles to PNoy is scripted and the present administration is protecting the former fugitive so she will sing all government officials that are involved in the pork barrel scam most especially those in the higher ones in the administration and his allies both in congress and local government units.
Lacierda, for almost one hour, tried to explain the circumstances that led to Napoles’ yielding.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) in the morning, when the President announced in his interview that there was a P10-million bounty, after that there was a subsequent news that Atty. Lorna Kapunan mentioned on TV, or there was a crawler on ANC, that there was a statement coming from Atty. Kapunan that her client was willing to surrender,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda said it was he who had called Kapunan at around lunch time Wednesday to inquire the feelers of a voluntary surrender. He admitted to have been worked with Kapunan in the past in a law firm.
“I think around 12:37, I don’t recall if I called or Lorna called but we discussed—I think I called—and I inquired and we’ve discussed and verified: “Was your statement that I saw on TV true or not—that her client was willing to surrender?” And she said: “Yes”. And she already mentioned at that point that they wanted to surrender but they were—Ms. Janet Napoles was fearing for her life. There was threat on her life,” Lacierda claimed.
Lacierda said he told Kapunan to talk to Napoles and that he would for his part talk to Aquino to discuss the surrender feeler.
“So I went up to him and informed the President about the developments and he just told me: We have so many leads. There were leads of this and that. So is this just another lead,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda said that at around 4:06 in the afternoon, Kapunan called him back and she said that her client was willing to surrender to the President.
“Her (Napoles) only request was that her safety be secured, owing to the fact that there was, on her part, there was fear for or there were threats on her life,” Lacierda said.
“And then, after that, I went back to the President. When I saw the President, I understand that he already instructed Secretary Mar Roxas. So when I went to the President, Secretary Mar Roxas was already there and Executive Secretary (Paquito) Ochoa and I informed them that, according to Atty. Lorna Kapunan, Ms. Janet Napoles was willing to surrender today,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda said Aquino already instructed Roxas that as soon as Napoles surrenders, she should be turned over to the custody to the DILG or to PNP.
Lacierda said Napoles was not handcuffed when she entered the Palace and faced Aquino.
“No, she wasn’t handcuffed. She voluntarily surrendered. That’s part of (the request).
“There they talked. It was short, around 10 minutes—more or less,” Lacierda said.
“So upon our arrival, she was brought to the holding area. Then the usual booking procedure had been done,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda said in going to headquarters of the National Police, Aquino would only want to insure that the camp was secured.
Lacierda denied that Napoles was given the VIP treatment.
Militant labor group the Kilusang Mayo Uno slammed Lacierda’s arrogant statements against the progressive bloc in the House of Representatives this morning, saying the spokesman has fortified doubts that Janet Lim Napoles’s surrender was all for show in a prepared statement said.

By Alvin Murcia, Paul Atienza, Pat C. Santos and AFP

One Response. Have your say.

  1. Jun Gatmaitan says:

    2 weeks on the lam; Then a P10 million peso bounty is offered for her capture; Then hours after the announcement, she surrenders to the President, who in turn led the convoy to Camp Crame. Then a big announcement, with a possible story about her becoming a state witness to “finger” the people in high places.

    The plaintiff, one named Benhur Luy, then retracts his testimony (some more behind the scenes maneuvering), the case of illegal detention gets dropped, and everybody goes on their merry way, like nothing happened. She gets to keep all her very expensive vehicles (was it over 30?), her 415 different bank accounts, the alleged 3 yachts,(not to mention her various real estate holdings in the USA) and her daughter Janet can still go on partying ’til she pukes on the champagne and caviar.

    Once again, we the taxpayers gets anally raped to the tune of billions of pesos.

    Makes you want to vomit, doesn’t it?

    Yeah, more fun in the Philippines.

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