Napoles not pushing to be state witness: lawyer

Posted at 04/23/14 9:48 AM

MANILA – The legal counsel of alleged pork barrel scam player Janet Lim Napoles on Wednesday said the businesswoman is not pushing for her admission as a state witness in the case.

Atty. Bruce Rivera said his client is willing to tell the truth even without the guarantee of being admitted as a state witness in the case which will make her immune from the suit.

''Ang sinasabi ni Mrs. Napoles, gusto niyang makausap si [Justice Secretary Leila] De Lima. Gusto niyang sabihin ang kanyang nalalaman. Kung tatanggapin siyang state witness bakit hindi, pero kapag hindi naman eh di okay lang," Rivera told dzMM.

Rivera also noted that Napoles had thought about coming forward even before she faced the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the scam, which saw billions of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) being diverted to bogus non-government organizations.

He said several circumstances had prevented Napoles from declaring her intent to reveal her supposed knowledge about the scam.

"Nung [humarap] siya sa Senado, gusto niya po munang kausapin si Sec. De Lima, pero nung time na iyon wala siyang abugado, kaya po medyo disoriented siya at confused. Kaya nung nag-testify siya sa Senado, ni-represent siya ng PAO (Public Attorney's Office) lawyers kaya wala siyang masagot,'' he said.

''Nung nasa Sto. Domingo siya, even before pa, gusto na niyang kausapin si Sec. De Lima pero 'di po talaga sila magkakita, wala silang opportunity, 'di ko alam kung may humarang."

De Lima on Tuesday said Napoles has expressed willingness to reveal everything she knows about what is considered to be one of the biggest corruption scandals in the country's history.

The Justice secretary, however, said there is no guarantee yet whether Napoles would be turned into a state witness.

She said this decision is in the hands of the Office of the Ombudsman, which had already indicted Napoles, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, Enrile's former chief of staff Gigi Reyes, and five others for plunder and graft.

Rivera again denied reports that Napoles linked at least 19 senators to the scam, saying he cannot reveal the contents of the businesswoman's statement.

He refused to divulge the correct figure of the lawmakers Napoles supposedly implicated in the scam, but he said the list is composed of incumbent and former senators, and even legislators from the lower chamber.

Rivera said Napoles "will continue what she has to finish" after her scheduled operation for her uterine cyst.