Do you think Napoles should become a state Witness?
After a private meeting with Janet Lim Napoles in her hospital room at Ospital ng Makati on Monday night, DOJ Secretary, Leila De Lima, told ABS-CBN news reporters: “She (Napoles) will be undergoing surgery so ang pinaka-request niya, that’s why I had to see her na rin, because ang sabi niya she needs to talk to us and tell what she knows before siya mag-undergo ng surgery.”
Although she did not tell reporters of the details of their meeting, De Lima said that Napoles had requested that she be accepted by the government as a witness. However, when she was asked by reporters if De Lima will consider Napoles, she replied, “There’s no commitment on our part to consider her as state witness because we need first to evaluate ang kanyang statement.”
With this latest development in the pork barrel scam, people are divided on whether Napoles should be taken in as a state witness for the case.
Bayan Muna Representative, Neri Colmenares said that “Napoles is one of the main culprits in the pork barrel scam and this would be a clear travesty of justice.” Colmenares firmly believes that Napoles should be punished because of her crimes against the people.
Similarly, counsel of whistleblowers, Levi Baligod thinks that Napoles can do more harm to the government’s plunder case. He stated that Napoles has once lied under oath during the senate Blue Ribbon hearing on 7 November 2013 last year when she denied her involvement in the ‘fake’ foundations that allegedly utilized the pork barrel allotments of different Senators and Congressmen. “That was her chance to come clean on the scam, and she blew it,” Baligod said.
On Wedneday, quoting Rules of Court, Section 17, Rule 190, Lawyer Raymund Fortun told ANC Headstart that Napoles cannot be a state witness because she is the most guilty in the pork barrel scam. There have already been several evidences submitted to the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice to prosecute her. During the Senate Blue Ribbon hearing, Napoles claimed to have no involvement in the scam which is enough to question her credibility as a state witness, according to Fortun.
San Beda’s Dean of the Graduate School of Law, Fr. Ranhilo Aquino supported Atty. Fortun’s statements. He said that Napoles’ present and previous testimonies were difficult to reconcile. Last Wednesday, he told DZMM radio that her irreconcilable testimonies “makes her liable to perjury and willingly rendering false testimonies under oath.” The Fr Aquino further believes that Napoles’ application as a state witness will only cause delays in resolving the pork barrel scam.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo in an interview with 24 Oras opposed Napoles being a state witness saying, “Dapat lahat ng mga may kasalanan ay pananagutin. Hindi lang iyong mga kalaban na mga politico.” He is concerned that her revelation might be tainted by politics and she might be indicting only people from the opposition and skip those allied with the government.
Mae Paner, a social activist who is widely known as, Juana Change, strongly believes that Napoles should be held accountable for the billions of pesos she stole from the people.
Senator Pimentel III shares the same sentiment. He said, “How could the person who put up the infrastructure for the PDAF scam be qualified as state witness? Isn’t the architect of the whole scheme the most guilty, hence disqualified from being state witness? She could be muddling the whole picture out of desperation … Since she’s facing the prospect of life in prison, so why not bring as many down with her just to muddle the whole issue. We should be careful.”
However some lawyers and officials of the government, church and different institutions do not want to write off Napoles immediately as a possible state witness.
The former Dean of UP College of Law, Pacifico Agabin explained, “Kapag hindi siya (Napoles) ang pinakamabigat ang kasalanan, pwede siyang magamit na state witness. “Yung testimony niya is very material kasi siya ang isang tao na maraming alam tungkol sa scheme na ito e.”
According to Agabin, there should be a condition in admitting her as a state witness. The government can order Napoles to return the money she was accused to have stolen from the people.
The director of Transparency and Accountability Network, Vince Lazatin also has the same opinion. Lazatin told GMA Network, ““Kung ang testimony niya ay magle-lead to the full indictment or conviction ng mga very powerful people, then it might be worth getting her statement.”