'Napoles meet with NBI execs won't affect case'

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 21 2014 07:06 PM | Updated as of Mar 22 2014 03:06 AM

MANILA - Malacañang believes the circumstances behind the arrest of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles will not affect the case against her.

This is amid reports that Napoles allegedly met with two National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officials before her surrender to President Aquino last August.

"Was the case weakened? No, it's not. It's strong. The case is very strong and the case is undergoing prosecution and there has been a warrant of arrest. So we believe that it will not weaken the case wherever, whether it's now in the regional trial court or in the Ombudsman," Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

Napoles is accused of masterminding the alleged P10 billion pork barrel scam, which saw lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) going to fake non-government organizations she set up.

She surrendered to President Aquino last August 28, 2013 just hours after a P10 million bounty was put up for information leading to her arrest.

She is currently incarcerated in Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna on a serious illegal detention case filed by pork barrel scam whistle-blower Benhur Luy. Separate charges of plunder, bribery and malversation against her and 37 others are still pending before the Ombudsman.

Recently, former NBI deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala said two NBI officials met with Napoles on May 23, 2013 followed by a second meeting last year.

They said CCTV footage from the NBI will show the Napoleses' visit to the agency for the meeting.

Lacierda, however, questioned the motive behind the two officials' revelation.

"If that person who knew about it knew about it early on, why did he just reveal it when he was relieved? The revelation is suspect also," he said.

He said the situation is similar to the circumstances leading to the arrest of businessman Delfin Lee who is facing charges over the alleged Globe Asiatique housing scam. Vice-President Jejomar Binay earlier said "influential persons" tried to work for Lee's release after his arrest.

He said that just like Lee, Napoles was arrested because she is facing a pending case.