Aguirre admits DOJ wants Napoles to be a state witness in pork scam
The Department of Justice (DOJ) wants suspected pork barrel queen Janet Lim Napoles to be a state witness.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II admitted this on Tuesday, saying this was the reason his office was considering Napoles to be placed under the Witness Protection Program.
"Yes. That('s) the basic reason why we are entertaining her WPP application," he said in a text message to reporters.
In a press briefing in Malacanang earlier in the day, Aguirre said he had a meeting with Napoles two months ago as she expressed her willingness to say everything about the multi-billion alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund by some lawmakers.
"We are expecting that and if she would not fulfill that - I had a face to face ( meeting) with her - it won't happen," he said when asked if the government expects something from Napoles.
Aguirre said during their meeting, Napoles told him that she would revealed those who were involved in the PDAF scam.
Napoles has been provisionally covered by the WPP despite allegations she was the mastermind in the pork barrel scam.
But according to Aguirre, Napoles, who is facing plunder cases, could not be the most guilty party, thus, she could qualify under the WPP.
"If the case is plunder, who should be charged, aren't they government officials? So if it's government officials who would be charged, then Janet would be just a co-conspirator. And being a co-conspirator, she is not the most guilty. Thus, since she is not the most guilty, then she is qualified to be put under the WPP," he explained.
"As between two almost equally guilty, who is more guilty: the public officer or a private person who has just finished high school?," he added.
Napoles reportedly did not finish college.
Aguirre explained that if Napoles would finally be placed under WPP, the pending cases she has been facing would not be affected.
"Well, because it will only affect the new cases if ever, new cases have to be filed. But the cases now pending where she is now on trial and she has been detained would not be affected. it will not change a bit," he said.
While Malacanang insisted that President Rodrigo Duterte did not have a hand in the possible inclusion of Napoles under WPP, Aguirre admitted her lawyer Stephen David has been "in and out" of Malacanang.
He mentioned David's frequency in the Palace when he was asked about the lawyer's supposed claim that it was Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea who advised him during a meeting to petition the Sandiganbayan to transfer Napoles' detention now that she has been provisionally accepted under WPP.
"He (David) just came there. Since the beginning he usually goes there. He frequently comes here in the Palace," Aguirre said.
But Aguirre clarified that when he and Medialdea talked to David, it was not a meeting because he just arrived in the Palace.
Malacanang is allegedly backing Napoles so she could be used to pin down some opposition lawmakers in the supposed PDAF mess. Celerina Monte/DMS