MANILA - Malacanang is steering clear of a reported offer from businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles to return the money she got in the pork barrel scam.
Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said only the Ombudsman has the authority to weigh the offer and make the necessary recommendation to the Sandiganbayan.
"It is only the Office of the Ombudsman that is clothed with the authority to recommend to the Sandiganbayan any action on matters like what you have just mentioned; and we respect the independence of the Office of the Ombudsman," he said.
He urged the public to wait for the Ombudsman's own decision on the matter.
Napoles is accused of conniving with lawmakers and officials of implementing agencies to funnel billions of pesos in priority development assistance funds (PDAF) to non-government organizations she set up.
The businesswoman denied masterminding the scheme, saying she is also a victim in the scam. She is also asking for immunity from suit in exchange for her testimony in the pork barrel and Malampaya fund scams.
President Aquino has thumbed down the proposal to tap Napoles as state witness.
Meantime, Coloma also sidestepped a question on a challenge for all involved in the pork barrel scam to be jailed.
“Iyong pagpapasya po kung sino ang makukulong wala po sa Ehekutibo iyon, nasa Hudikatura. Iyong pagpapasya na mag-protest, nasa kanila pong karapatan iyon at iginagalang po natin iyong kanilang pagpapahayag ng kanilang saloobin. Wala naman po sa kapangyarihan ng Ehekutibo iyong magpasya na ikulong dahil iyan ang dulo ng isang proseso ng hukuman. Ang trabaho po ng Ehekutibo ay magsiyasat at magsampa ng kaso. Nakita na po natin iyong ating determinasyon sa aspetong ‘yan ng pagsisiyasat at paghain ng mga kaso at patuloy pa itong ipinapatupad.”