'Businesswoman tagged at least 10 other senators'
MANILA - Janet Lim Napoles named more than 100 people, including at least 10 other senators, in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam, former senator Panfilo Lacson said Wednesday.
Lacson, currently the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery, revealed that the businesswoman's husband, former military officer Jimmy Napoles, met with him in late March.
Two of Napoles' children were also present during that meeting.
The agenda: Napoles' decision to reveal all she knows about the pork barrel scam.
Lacson said he was chosen by the Napoles family to talk to because he had rejected his pork barrel allocation while he was still a senator.
"There's this common friend na kaibigan ni Napoles, nagkataon na dati kong tauhan. Sabi niya, "Sir, baka pwede raw kayong makontak, makausap ni Mrs. Napoles.' Sabi ko, 'Tungkol saan?' Sabi niya, 'Tell all.' I became interested. Sabi ko, sige."
Lacson said the Napoleses handed over documents around 1.5 inches thick, including a draft affidavit.
In that draft, the alleged scam mastermind linked more than 100 people to the multibillion-peso anomaly.
The list included at least 10 other senators, as well as congressmen, officials of the executive department, and other government agency officials.
Napoles listed down the supposed kickbacks received by government officials or their representatives, numbers of special allotment release orders (SAROs), and transaction dates.
"May listahan ng senador, congressmen, atsaka executive officials. All I can say, tiningnan ko ang listahan: sa Senate, may quorum. Doon sa House, mahaba ang listahan. There are names na you won't expect to be there. Merong nakaka-sorpresa, merong ini-expect mo na talagang dapat nandoon maski hindi nababanggit sa media pa o hearings," he said.
But Lacson felt that Napoles was withholding some details, so he chose not to inform Malacanang yet.
"Meron din akong ibang information na from other sources na wala doon," he said.
Because Lacson had yet to act on Napoles' claims, the detained businesswoman's lawyer, Atty. Bruce Rivera, said they decided to contact Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
Rivera also confirmed that the information they gave to Lacson was incomplete.
The complete list of those involved in the scam is already with de Lima, the lawyer said.
However, he denied reports that Napoles has implicated 19 other senators.
Rivera also denied that Napoles is expecting to be made a state witness.
"Kung gawin siyang state witness, she'll be happy, kung hindi, she'll fight it out pero never naging requirement iyung pagiging state witness niya sa pagsasalita nya ngayon," he said. "She is not the most guilty, not the mastermind."
It was de Lima who said Napoles wanted to become state witness, although her sworn statement would have to be evaluated first.
Lacson welcomed the decision of the Napoles camp to approach De Lima.
"At least, iyung information will be in good hands and will be put into good use. Dahil whatever we have in the past, I still believe na si Secretary de Lima is the right person na in-approach niya because no-nonsense at saka more or less na hindi isa-sanitize ang information na ibibigay," he said.
"Isang kondisyon na importante, dapat walang pipiliin, mapa-alyado o kaibigan man, o kaaway man basta't nabanggit doon," he said.
NO SACRED COWS
The Palace on Wednesday said it will wait for the recommendation of the Department of Justice on the possibility of Napoles turning state witness in the prosecution of the pork barrel scam.
President Benigno Aquino earlier thumbed down the idea.
Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said, “We will await the [Department of Justice’s] recommendation on this… The focus of the government is on the quest for truth and bringing to the bar of justice all those involved in the misuse of public funds. And with the specific case of Janet Napoles, Secretary of Justice (Leila) de Lima has already explained the context of what she has done and what the DOJ continues to do, which is to evaluate the statements that she has given of late.”
Coloma maintained there will be no sacred cows.
”The President has time and again said that the evidence itself must provide the direction. We have time and again pointed out that the symbol of justice in this country is a blindfolded lady carrying the scales of justice, and that means that there is no fear or favor in the exercise of our responsibility to bring to the bar of justice those who are involved in the alleged misuse of public funds.” - with reports from Doris Bigornia and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News; Joel Caballero, ANC