De Lima: Napoles boasted control of government
MANILA (UPDATED) - Businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles once boasted control of the entire government, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Wednesday.
De Lima said said Napoles' group wields a lot of political influence.
"They have lots of connections. They even boasted before na kontrolado nila daw ang gobyerno. Before 2010, she used to say that," she said.
Napoles, allegedly the key operator behind the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam rocking the legislature, has also been tagged in the Malampaya funds mess and the fertilizer funds scam that occurred during the Arroyo administration.
Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim went into hiding after warrants were issued for their arrest last August 14 in connection with the serious illegal detention of pork scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.
She surrendered to President Aquino Wednesday night. Her brother remains at large, as of posting.
De Lima, in an interview with ANC Prime Time before Napoles' surrender, said some groups could have coddled the businesswoman. "But I don't see that in any reports so far of the (National Bureau of Investigation)," she added.
In response to Napoles lawyer Lorna Kapunan urging government to assure her client's security, de Lima said the businesswoman should surrender to authorities first. "They should first come out [and] honor the arrest warrant issued by the court."
De Lima also described the P10-million reward for information leading to Napoles' capture as "substantial."
She compared it to the bounties for other fugitives like Jovito Palparan, former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, former Dinagat Island Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr., and businessmen Delfin Lee that amount to around P2 million each.
She clarified her earlier statement calling for a citizen's arrest of Napoles and her brother was made in "a loose sense."
Under the law, a citizen's arrest can only be made if the person to be arrested is actually committing or is attempting to commit an offense; during "hot pursuit" immediately after crime is committed, or the the person to be arrested escaped from prison.
PLASTIC SURGERY, COA REPORT
De Lima, meanwhile, frowned at the statement from a National Bureau of Investigation official that Napoles may have had plastic surgery to change her looks and evade authorities.
"I don't believe that. I think it's ridiculous," she said.
De Lima said the Commission on Audit special report on the alleged misuse of lawmaker's pork barrel funds is not enough to indict those responsible for the anomalies.
"We have to go to the source documents on which the COA report was based," she said.
She also added that alleged errors by the Department of Budget of Management, including supposed P3 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund of then Compostela Valley Rep. Manuel "Way Kurat" Zamora, will not affect the investigation on the pork barrel scandal.
"It has no significant impact on the overall findings. The findings are still there," she said.