Napoles could be impeached as a witness, lawyer warns

Posted at 04/24/14 3:40 AM

MANILA – The lawyers of whistleblower Benhur Luy on Wednesday said they would like to appeal to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, in their meeting with her set next week, to allow their witnesses to look into the material points of the statement given by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.

"Our witnesses can provide insights. Whether these insights can be considered as part of the analysis that they are doing, it's up to them," Atty. Raji Mendoza told ANC’s Primetime.

Atty. Anel Antero, however, said a consultation with the witnesses would have been better before De Lima brought out the idea of considering Napoles also as a state witness.

"Kailangan ang consultation because we need direction from her, being the Secretary of Justice. Dun siguro nagkulang para sa amin, bagama't we defer to her… but then again to our minds, it would have been the better course of things if she would've consulted the whistleblowers about bringing out this idea in the first place to the public," he said.

"Naniniwala naman kami that DOJ is doing its best to ferret out the truth. Siguro that's one of the reasons why interesado sila, kung meron pang katotohanan na kailangan i-disclose," Mendoza said.

Antero, meanwhile, said the whistleblowers are apprehensive about this latest development.

"Kami rin ay nagkaroon ng pagaagam-agam ng aming mga kliyente na baka yung kanilang sakripisyo ay mawalan ng saysay dahil sa development na ito," he said.

According to Antero, the "face" behind the so-called scam had already been established, and it would be difficult for the people to accept otherwise.

"Based on the evidence that has been gathered so far, sa mga investigations, nabigyan na natin ng mukha yung pandarambong na nangyari. Mahirap nang ipasikmura sa taongbayan ngayon na yung mukhang ibinigay natin ay biglang magdidilang-anghel at magbibigay sa atin ng mga totoong mastermind. Magagalit po ang taongbayan kung ‘yun ang magiging posisyon natin na all of a sudden may dramatic U-turn, na sya ang magiging biktima dito," Antero said.

Mendoza, for his part, said Napoles could be impeached as a witness because she already gave a different statement under oath previously in the Senate.

"That’s one issue. Hindi nga lang state witness eh. Kahit mag-ordinary witness, it’s dangerous for the case," he said.

But Mendoza said that if Napoles really has something to reveal, then she must disclose everything.

"Mas maganda, disclose nya na lahat ng talagang kailangan i-disclose. Siyempre, we leave that to the wisdom of our able secretary of justice, because she might have a different point of view as a matter of strategy," he said.

Antero, for his part, said: "Her intention to tell all, she owes it to the Filipino people without condition. Kahit hindi sya maging testigo, marapat lamang na kanyang isilawat kung ano ang kanyang nalalaman. Kung ginawa nya nga po yun, at the proper time noon na nandun sya sa Senate, edi sana iba pinaguusapan natin ngayon. So bakit hindi ganun ang nangyari?"

Asked if someone from the government "deputized" Napoles to run the scam, Mendoza said "it's not impossible."

"It’s a matter of evidence again of course. Kung meron ngang ganun, equal lang yan. Parehas ang guilt nila. She cannot appear not to be the most guilty," Mendoza said.