MANILA -- Atty. Plaridel Bohol, the former husband of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, on Thursday denied having a hand in the meeting of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles with two top officials of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) last year prior to her arrest.
Sacked NBI Deputy Director Reynaldo Esmeralda had alleged that Bohol accompanied Napoles when she met with former NBI Chief Nonnatus Rojas and current NBI Deputy Director for Regional Services Rafael Ragos before she was arrested on serious illegal detention charges.
In a text message, Bohol denied that he arranged the meeting.
He said he was at the NBI to greet Rojas a belated happy birthday since the day before was his birthday.
He said he and Rojas were having lunch when Napoles and her lawyer, Freddie Villamor, arrived.
He said Napoles complained to Rojas that the NBI agents who were guarding her brother at the St. Luke's Medical Center "were intruding on [the] private room of her brother every now and then, causing inconvenience to him after a heart bypass surgery."
"She pleaded that [the] matter be looked into so that her
brother could recuperate well," Bohol said, adding that Napoles left a few minutes after.
At the time of the meeting, Bohol stressed that he was not aware that Napoles was the same woman who would become the center of the whole pork barrel scam controversy.
He said there was no news yet about the multibillion-peso anomaly at that time.
"I just hope that I am not being linked to this issue to connect me in a malicious way to [the] Secretary of Justice," Bohol said.
Rojas, for his part, had admitted that he met with Napoles but only for the purpose of getting her side about the serious illegal detention case filed against her by pork scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.
Rojas also said the meeting with Napoles happened before any warrant was issued for her arrest. -- Reports from Zyann Ambrosio, ABS-CBN News; Alex Calda, dzMM