MANILA - Why did alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles choose rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson to receive a copy of the list of lawmakers allegedly linked to the pork barrel scam?
Lawyer Bruce Rivera said Napoles did it for one simple reason: the businesswoman did not know who to trust because both administration and opposition lawmakers allegedly had links to the scam.
"Mrs. Napoles knew that Senator Lacson was not involved, did not have PDAF [priority development assistance funds] transactions so he would be the best person in the Senate, the best personality to talk to...," Rivera said.
Napoles is accused of conniving with lawmakers and government officials to funnel billions of pesos in pork barrel funds to her fake foundations.
Lacson has not been linked to the scam after refusing his pork barrel allocations while he was still a senator.
Napoles recently gave Justice Secretary Leila de Lima a list of lawmakers linked to the scam after giving an initial list to Lacson.
In the interview, Rivera said the Napoles family told Lacson that the initial list was incomplete.
He said the Napoles family again sought out de Lima because Lacson did not do anything with the list.
"We are not saying he is not enough. It was just that the pace of how he handled it...perhaps he was busy with more important things. We are not blaming Senator Lacson for that. He was the rehabilitation czar so he had more important things on his mind," he said.
He also said that Mrs. Napoles didn't want the list divulged after giving it to Lacson.
"It was under the veil of confidentiality at that time. At that point, we were a little bit iffy, in a predicament because we didn't know what to do. Both opposition and administration names were there so we really didn't know who to trust. We were looking for the most independent-minded official," he said.
Rivera also denied that Napoles lied under oath when she told senators during last year's Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing that she did not know any of the lawmakers being linked to the scam.
He pointed out the businesswoman had been in jail in Fort Sto. Domingo and had just had a falling-out with her lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, before the hearing.
Only lawyers from the Public Attorney's Office helped Napoles during the hearing.