MANILA - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday said businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the P10 billion pork barrel scam, is still in the country. She said the National Bureau of Investigation is working on putting her on Interpol's red list in case she slips out of the country.
De Lima said there is no indication Napoles has left the country, pointing out the difficulty of doing so since Napoles' passport has been cancelled.
She said the NBI is already pursuing several leads in arresting Napoles. However, the agency is cool to the idea of putting a bounty on Napoles since whatever bounty the government may impose maybe peanuts to Napoles' assets.
"No indication nakalabas. Mahihirapan kasi cancelled passport. NBI working on Interpol red list lalo na cancelled na passport. The NBI continues to have debate kung, debate karamihan sa kanila, di na raw kailangan kung P1 million, P2 million (bounty) peanuts lang sa if we think of the resources of the subject of manhunt," she said.
She also pointed out that some of the most wanted fugitives are still on the loose despite 2-million-peso bounties on their heads.
"As a matter of principle, di rin maganda rin mercenary element. Alam natin gaano kataas interest ng publiko so enraged by this. Umaasa rin kami sa tulong ng sambayanan," she said.
De Lima said the NBI is still preparing the cases and collating the documents that will be used in filing the strongest cases related to the pork barrel scam. She said they can only file cases connected to Napoles since she is the focus of the investigation.
Other cases will have to be filed regarding the bigger scam as uncovered by a recent Commission on Audit report.
"Standing instruction ng Pangulo ay kung ano malalakas na kaso na pwede nang i-file, i-file na ASAP. Now as you know, ang ini-imbestigahan ng NBI are the Napoles components or portions of the PDAF and even the malampaya fund scams. Even before lumabas yung COA special audit report, yun talaga tinutukan ng NBI gawa ng disclosures ng whistle-blowers. So yung Napoles portions lang nalaman sa COA report mas malaki ito di iyan sakop ng NBI," she said.
Number of cases being finalized
The NBI is focusing its investigation on the alleged pork barrel scam as well as the alleged misuse of P900 million in Malampaya funds being linked to Napoles. De Lima said fake non-government organizations being linked to Napoles are also under investigation.
"Kung ilang kaso at ilan kakasuhan namin, yan fina-finalize pa namin. Katulad ng Pangulo, hindi pa namin pwede sabihin kung sino-sino kakasuhan namin other than Napoles," she said.
De Lima said an inter-agency, anti-graft coordinating council has been formed to probe the bigger scam uncovered by COA. The lead office in this council is the Ombudsman.
"'Yan ang tumutututok sa mga large scale , large scale corruption cases at nagkaroon na kami ng initial discussions diyan. Nagka-initial meeting with Ombudsman and COA. Yung sa Napoles component of the scam sa PDAF meron na kaming mga na-identify na mga pwedeng kasuhan pero fina-file, dino-double check namin yan kasi gusto namin masiguro na yung documents andiyan and in fact kino-collate na iyan. Nawala lang 3 days (because of the weather) pero kundi sana nawala 3 days halos tapos na pag-collate ng documentary support."