Palace may change stand on Napoles as state witness

Posted at 04/23/2014 4:22 PM | Updated as of 04/23/2014 9:54 PM

MANILA - Malacanang is now considering the possibility of having businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles turning state witness in the prosecution of the pork barrel scam more than 2 months after President Aquino himself thumbed down the idea.

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said, “We will await the [Department of Justice’s] recommendation on this… The focus of the government is on the quest for truth and bringing to the bar of justice all those involved in the misuse of public funds. And with the specific case of Janet Napoles, Secretary of Justice (Leila) de Lima has already explained the context of what she has done and what the DOJ continues to do, which is to evaluate the statements that she has given of late.”

Coloma maintained there will be no sacred cows.

”The President has time and again said that the evidence itself must provide the direction. We have time and again pointed out that the symbol of justice in this country is a blindfolded lady carrying the scales of justice, and that means that there is no fear or favor in the exercise of our responsibility to bring to the bar of justice those who are involved in the alleged misuse of public funds.”

Coloma sidestepped comments on a statement attributed to Senate President Franklin Drilon, who said the testimony of Napoles should not be used for a smear campaign.

Previously, photographs of Drilon and Napoles that suggested a close relationship surfaced.

In thumbing down plans for Napoles to become state witness, Aquino said in February that it was unclear if she is the “most guilty” of the crime.

An accused can only be considered as a state witness if he or she is not the “most guilty”.

Coloma digressed this time.

“I think the statement was made at the time when the situation was there was no manifestation of any willingness on the part of Mrs. Napoles to shed light on this matter. Be that as it may, the situation is that the Department of Justice is still evaluating. We have not made any judgment or any determination on whether her more recent pronouncements are of a certain nature that would change our position on this aspect of the case.”

Aquino’s comment came before Napoles decided to tell all about the scam to Justice Secretary Leila de lima, who also initially thumbed down the idea of having Napoles turn state witness.