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Philippines' accused scam queen to tell all, but not in Senate 'carnival'
Publication Date : 28-09-2013
The Philippine Senate will be nothing but a carnival so don’t expect alleged pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles to testify there. But wait till she appears at the Ombudsman.
“She will tell all,” was how Napoles’ lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, described to the Inquirer on Friday the testimony her client would give when she appears at the Ombudsman.
Kapunan said her client would tell everything “when she testifies at the hearing before the Ombudsman.”
Napoles has been charged with plunder in the Ombudsman—along with Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada and 34 other people—in connection with the alleged misuse of the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) amounting to about 10 billion pesos (US$228 million).
Kapunan spoke to the Inquirer during a break in the hearing of a petition for bail filed by Napoles in the Makati City Regional Court Branch 150.
The bail hearing is in connection with the case of serious illegal detention filed against Napoles by her cousin and former employee, Benhur Luy.
The illegal detention case led to the investigation of the alleged pork scam after agents of the National Bureau of Investigation rescued Luy.
Kapunan also said Napoles would not attend the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the scam in deference to the order of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.
Committee chair Sen. Teofisto Guingona III has been trying to subpoena Napoles to appear before his committee to shed light on the supposed connivance between her and lawmakers to misuse the PDAF, through “kickbacks”.
“The Ombudsman has already expressed her opinion not to allow her to appear before the Senate inquiry,” Kapunan said.
Asked if she was inclined to advise her client to attend the Senate inquiry in case a subpoena was issued against Napoles, Kapunan said: “No.”
Pressed why, the lawyer added: “It will be a carnival.”
Court presence needed
Kapunan denied reports that Napoles had been allowed to leave her detention cell in Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna province, to “take a bath in her house in Alabang”.
“Not true that she was allowed to leave her detention cell, she is detained in a cell within a cell,” Kapunan said.
She also said her client was not “really well.”
After the hearing of the bail petition on Friday, Kapunan said Napoles would not appear in court during the identification of the witnesses against her in the illegal detention case.
Makati Judge Elmo Alameda said during the hearing that Napoles’ presence would be required during her arraignment, the identification of witnesses and the promulgation of the decision.