'Napoles tried to pay off whistleblowers before surrender'
MANILA - Businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles tried to pay off whistleblowers to clear her name before she surrendered to President Aquino last Wednesday, a lawyer said Monday.
Levito Baligod is the counsel for 10 whistleblowers in the alleged pork barrel scam. He said that, based on the accounts of the whistleblowers, Napoles contacted them and dictated to them the contents of an affidavit which pins down Benhur Luy, the key whistleblower of the scam.
Baligod said Napoles sent a representative to meet the whistleblowers in a Chinese restaurant in Trinoma mall to conduct the payoff.
"Nagmeet sila sa Trinoma. Nandoon yung 1 lawyer together with Cheryl Jimenea at in-offer-an ng pera. Binigyan tag P20,000 para idiin nila si Benhur Luy. I did not ask kung tinanggap nila pero parang tinanggap nila. Why? To make it appear they were still with her," he said in an interview on Mornings@ANC.
Baligod said National Bureau of Investigation agents were tracking the person who gave the cash to the whistleblowers last Wednesday. However, the operation came too late because Mrs. Napoles was surrendering to President Aquino on the same night.
"Sinundan ng NBI yung nagbigay ng pera sa kanila. One hour late lang yung NBI. One hour earlier, sinasabi na sumuko na si Mrs. Napoles," he said.
In the interview, Baligod said Napoles should not be qualified to become a state witness because her testimony is not indispensable to convict guilty parties.
“The evidence that we have is enough to convict Mrs. Napoles and the co-conspirators,” he said.
“It takes two to tango. Without a Napoles, hindi makakakuha itong legislators. Without the legislators, walang makukuha si Mrs. Napoles. They are principals by indispensable cooperation. One can’t live without the other, work without the other,” he added.