No cuffs, no arrest: Palace denies VIP treatment for Napoles
MANILA - Malacañang on Thursday denied giving businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles special treatment when she surrendered to President Aquino late Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda confirmed that Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the P10 billion pork scam, was not cuffed or immediately arrested after he met her at Heritage Park in Taguig Wednesday afternoon. Napoles is wanted for a serious illegal detention case filed by whistle-blower Benhur Luy.
"She voluntarily surrendered. It is not the first time that fugitives surrendered to the President," he said.
A briefer on the Official Gazette showed a list of wanted individuals who personally surrendered to Presidents in the past.
The spokesman noted that Huk Supremo Luis Taruc surrendered to President Aquino's father, Ninoy Aquino, in 1954. Aquino, who was then a reporter for the Manila Times and personal emissary of President Ramon Magsaysay, then brought Taruc to the President on board the presidential yacht.
Lacierda said Napoles decided to surrender directly to the President "because her family has issues with the National Bureau of Investigation."
He also confirmed Napoles was brought to Malacañang for the surrender before she was brought to Camp Crame.
"This is part of the voluntary surrender that they requested. We wanted to make sure that she is safe rather than if you don't do anything, if you don't take up this lead, what will you say. Hindi na natin nahuli. So we are doing our best to bring us closer to the truth," he said.
Lacierda said it would have been worse if Malacañang had not acted on the surrender feelers and the threats to her life came to pass. "We didn't even know if it would push through," he said.
He also refuted statements that Napoles will be used as a witness to pin down enemies of the current administration.
"We don't even know what she know. What we know is she is the key in finding out the truth," he said.
He said that with Napoles' surrender, she can then be brought to court to face the lawsuit filed against her.