MANILA - A former National Bureau of Investigation official has linked no less than former NBI chief Nonnatus Rojas and current NBI Deputy Director for Regional Services Rafael Ragos as the two NBI officials who met businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles last year before her arrest.
Rojas, however, said the meeting with Napoles happened before any warrant was issued for her arrest.
Former NBI Deputy Director for Intelligence Services Reynaldo Esmeralda appeared Wednesday before the NBI ad hoc committee and presented 3 CCTV videos that showed Napoles allegedly meeting with Rojas and Ragos.
Esmeralda said one video showed a woman in black, identified as Napoles, waiting at the office of Rojas with another NBI employee. The video was taken last May 23, 2013, he said.
Rojas had earlier admitted that he met with Napoles only for the purpose of getting her side about the serious illegal detention case filed against her by her relative, pork scam whistle-blower Benhur Luy.
Esmeralda, however, said Napoles should have gone straight to the Department of Justice instead of the NBI since the case was already with the justice department.
He reiterated that he and former deputy director Ruel Lasala did not tip off Napoles about her impending arrest since they did not meet with the businesswoman.
Esmeralda said two lawyers, Fred Villamor and Plaridel Bohol, accompanied Napoles at the NBI. The meeting with Napoles and the two lawyers at the NBI was not seen in the CCTV.
He said NBI agents Jun Dongallo, Eli Tiu and Jun de Castro witnessed Napoles' visit to the NBI.
Napoles is accused of masterminding the alleged pork barrel scam, which saw billions of pesos in lawmakers' priority development assistance funds (PDAF) being allocated to foundations she set up.
The Commission on Audit earlier said more than P2 billion in pork barrel funds were allocated to Napoles foundations from 2007-2009.
Napoles surrendered to President Aquino last August 28 just hours after a P10 million bounty was put up for any information that would lead to her arrest.
Rojas: No warrant for Napoles before meeting
Meanwhile, Rojas said he met with Napoles and her lawyer during the pendency of the serious illegal detention case against her.
In a statement, he said the NBI submitted "exhaustive documents to the investigating prosecutor that resulted to the filing of the case in court and the subsequent issuance of
the warrants of arrest."
"Her present detention is the result of the hard and honest work of the many dedicated men and women of the NBI. Any insinuation of irregularity ang wrongdoing is strongly and flatly denied. We have always aspired for the highest levels of professionalism," he said.
Rojas resigned last September after President Aquino said the NBI had its "share of less trustworthy officials under Rojas."
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima earlier said she will recommend that the President deny Rojas' resignation because she "did not want to lose a good man." Before being designated as NBI OIC last year, Rojas served as a Regional State Prosecutor.
On the other hand, de Lima recommended the relief of Esmeralda and Lasala earlier this month due to "integrity and trust issues."
She said that the "totality of their reputation" was one of the bases for her action.