Palace keeps distance from Lacson on Napoles' revelations

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 24 2014 11:31 PM | Updated as of Apr 25 2014 10:40 AM

MANILA - Malacanang on Thursday kept its distance from the apparent confusion over the pronouncement of Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson that suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles implicated more lawmakers than had been reported in her testimony.

This, amid the refusal of the Justice Department to release details about her testimony taken when she met with Justice Ssecretary Leila de Lima earlier this week.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the investigation will not be politicized.

"We have known Secretary Leila de Lima and she has always been very forthright. They are evaluating the testimonies submitted by Ms. Janet Napoles. We can tell you that sinabi na rin ni Secretary Leila de Lima that ini-expect niya walang political color dito sa investigation and evaluation nito, so that's how it should [be]," he said.

Asked if Lacson's public comments have been constructive, Lacierda said, "What I can at least, say (is) that when Secretary Leila de Lima spoke to Ms. Janet Napoles it was with the presence of counsel. So I can only go by the statement of Secretary Leila de Lima. We will leave with Secretary Ping Lacson whatever knowledge, whatever document he knows. But at the end of the day, it will be evaluated either—whatever Secretary Lacson has and whatever was shared with Secretary Leila de Lima. They will all be evaluated."

Lacierda said Lacson has not discussed his statements with President Benigno Aquino.

"May interview si Secretary Lacson. Sabi niya hindi pa niya nakakausap si Presidente tungkol dito," he said. "I cannot pass judgment on the statement of Secretary Lacson. He has a copy of the unsigned affidavit but again, we will be guided (with) the evaluation made by the Department of Justice."

"We don’t know the names. Number one, we don’t know who were identified. So eventually, as the justice secretary will conduct her investigation, everything will eventually come out. So let’s just wait for that,” he said.

 Lacierda also said that Napoles is not yet admitted as a state witness. "There are no assurances that Ms. Janet Napoles will be discharged as a state witness. That was the request of Ms. Janet Napoles. Secretary Leila de Lima never made any guarantees to her."
 "It will be based on the evidence that were given to her. So what are we doing? We are evaluating the testimony of Ms. Janet Napoles, and whether it will go one way or the other, it will be up to the evaluation of the justice department."

The designation of an accused as a state witnesss in a criminal case lies in the discretion of the trial court.

The pork barrel scam has so far implicated only 3 incumbent senators.

Lacson has said that an unnamed lawmaker got more than the kickbacks alleged to have been received by Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla, and Jinggoy Estrada.