MANILA (9th UPDATE) - Fugitive businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles surrendered to President Aquino Wednesday night just hours after a P10 million bounty was put up for information leading to her arrest.
Napoles, who is wanted for serious illegal detention of pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy, gave herself up to President Benigno Aquino after which she was turned over to Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, in a statement, said Napoles surrendered to Aquino.
"At 9:37 p.m on August 28, Janet Napoles surrendered to President Aquino. Napoles is wanted on charges of serious illegal detention arising from the alleged kidnapping of Benhur Luy," Lacierda said.
"The President turned her over to the custody of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Philippine National Police Director-General Alan Purisima for processing and booking," he added.
Napoles' lawyer Lorna Kapunan, in an interview with radio dzMM Wednesday night, said Napoles surrendered as she feared for her safety following the P10-million reward offered by the government for her arrest.
She has questioned the bounty, saying it would have gotten Napoles killed.
She said Napoles' brother Reynald Lim, who is also wanted for serious illegal detention in connection with the Luy case, will also surrender to authorities soon.
Kapunan: Trust Aquino
Kapunan said she advised the Napoles family to trust Aquino.
"(Napoles' family) asked me what was the best option, and I said, 'We have to trust in someone, and I think (that's) the President," she said.
She said she was with Napoles after she surrendered.
“We directly surrendered to the President and we were assured that she will be given due process of law,” she told dzMM.
Kapunan denied having been in constant communication with Napoles.
"The last time we talked to her was the day the warrant of arrest was issued," she said.
She declined to give details on Napoles' surrender. "Huwag na natin pag-usapan 'yung logistics, with due respect to the President."
Kapunan she doesn't know where Napoles stayed before she surrendered. "We don't know where she came from."
Napoles is now under heavy guard at Camp Crame before being possibly brought to the NBI Thursday.
Surrender feelers to Lacierda
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, in press briefing after Napoles' surrender, said the businesswoman sent surrender feelers to Lacierda.
Roxas said the President called him up to work on Napoles's surrender. She was fetched from an undisclosed location and brought to Malacañang before Aquino accompanied her to Camp Crame to be detained.
"Ang punto 'di ba hinahanap siya ng buong sambayanan? Mahalaga na ma-secure siya para malaman natin ang katotohanan," he said.
Roxas said the reward on Napoles is now invalid because of her surrender but the bounty on her brother stays.
He said says Napoles underwent a health checkup and Aquino assured her of her safety.
"Si Napoles, bilang isang possible witness at ang laki ng anomalya, karapat-dapat na gawin ang lahat (to take her into custody)," he said.
Roxas said Napoles was served her arrest warrent, booked, and had her mugshots and fingerprints taken.
Napoles has been implicated in the P10-billion pork barrel scam and other alleged irregularities such as the fertilizer fund scam and the Malampaya fund mess.
A Makati Regional Trial Court issued a warrant for Napoles and her brother's arrest two weeks ago, August 14, but she opted to hide.
Napoles to be state witness?
Roxas, in an interview on dzMM early Thursday morning, said the government is not ruling out possibility of Napoles becoming a state witness.
"Isang avenue ito na bukas sa pamahalaan, kung may kontribusyon sa impormasyon at ebidensya si Napoles," he said.
He insisted however, that no deals were made for Napoles' surrender.
He said Napoles did not discuss the alleged threats to her life in her 15-minute conversation with President Aquino.
" Ang napag-usapan lang kanina ay 'yung kaalaman niya na may banta sa kanyang buhay at ang kanyang appeal na (mabigyan ng seguridad)," he said.
Roxas said he understands Napoles' fears.
'Ledger of transactions'
"Kung totoo iyung sinasabi ng mga whistleblower na may ledger, ikaw mangangamba ka rin," he said, amid allegations by pork barrel scam whistleblowers that Napoles has documents showing her cash transactions with lawmakers involved in the anomaly.
"Hindi ko alam kung red book iyan o black book. Hindi na kami dumating diyan," Roxas said.
Levito Baligod, lawyer of scam whistleblower Luy, earlier urged Napoles to surrender for her own safety.
"Iyung pagtatago niya ay nagdadagdag ng panganib sa buhay niya," he said. "Dahil meron ho kasing libro na hawak si Ginang Napoles na kung saan, nandoon iyung mga transaksiyon o mga napagkasunduan niya na sistema o sharing scheme with legislators."
Baligod said lawmakers involved in the scam do not want their names to come out in public.
"Hindi ako magtataka na iyung mga pulitiko na ito, ay ang magtatangkang hanapin si Ginang Napoles at kung maari huwag na siyang lumantad o kaya medyo mabibigay ng panganib sa buhay niya," he added.
"Mayroon pong hawak si Ginang Napoles, halimbawa, iyung cash vouchers po. Nandoon iyung mga pirma ng mga legislators. Meron din pirma iyung mga chiefs of staff o representatives ng mga legislators na tumanggap ng pera mula kay Ginang Napoles," he said.
On Wednesday morning, Aquino said Napoles should face the charges against her first before the government can consider turning her into a state witness against those involved in the pork barrel scam.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, meanwhile, said there are conditions to become a state witness, including being the least guilty in a case.
"Sa ngayon hindi pa namin 'yan sineseryosong kino-consider but we cannot really rule out that possibility. There is always that possibility pero hindi pa ho namin talaga 'yan kino-consider."
Investigators are targeting to file the first batch of cases in two weeks against Napoles, and possibly including lawmakers.
De Lima said the perpetrators of the pork barrel scam may face plunder charges but that it would still be subject to "further evaluation" by NBI's legal team review by the Office of the Ombudsman. - with reports from Jon Carlos Rodriguez, ABS-CBNNews.com; Jacque Manabat, Jenny Reyes, and Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News; Jun Lingcoran, Edwin Sevidal, and Zandro Ochona, dzMM; ANC