MANILA- Liberal Party president Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan on Friday rejected proposals to make businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles a state witness on the P10-billion pork barrel scam, asserting that she was the "mastermind" behind the racket.
"Mastermind ang tawag 'dun at hindi dapat pumayag ang korte na maabswelto siya," he said in a statement.
(You call that a mastermind and the court should not allow her to be cleared of charges.)
Napoles has long been tagged as the brains behind the pork barrel scam, which funneled lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) into the ghost projects of non-government organizations she allegedly set up.
Pangilinan said Napoles, now in talks with government to turn state witness, would say anything "just to save her skin," adding that the businesswoman had kickbacks from politicians.
"Base sa ebidensya at testigo, may kickback si Napoles sa bawat politiko kaya kung isama lahat ng nabulsa niya, 'di hamak na mas malaki ang nakuha niya sa bawat politiko," he said.
(Based on evidence and testimonies, Napoles had kickbacks from each politician. So if you add up all the funds she pocketed, it shows that she got more money than the politicians.)
In 2015, Napoles was sentenced to up to 40 years in prison for the illegal detention of her cousin Benhur Luy, the scam whistleblower who accused her of detaining him in a subdivision in Makati City to prevent him from baring the PDAF anomaly.
But the Court of Appeals on Monday overturned the conviction "based on reasonable doubt."
On Thursday, Napoles' legal counsel said he has met with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to discuss the possibility of her admission as a state witness.
The businesswoman has vowed to name other ranking officials involved in the scam, busted in 2013 during the Aquino administration.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Thursday said the Department of Justice would initiate a fresh investigation, adding that it would not adopt findings of the DOJ under the past administration. Critics had said cases filed during Aquino's time had left out allies.
Pangilinan said if the proposal to make Napoles a state witness would push through, the country's justice system would simply be a laughing stock.
"Naniniwala tayo na hindi papayag ang korte na gawin siyang state witness dahil magiging katawa-tawa ang ating sistema ng katarungan kapag yung pinakamalaking nambulsa ng pondo ng gobyerno, yung nakipaghati sa lahat ng mga akusado ay siya pa ang mapapawalang-sala," he said.
(We believe that the court would not allow Napoles be made a state witness because our justice system will be a laughing stock if the one who pocketed the biggest funds from government, the one who shared funds with all the accused will be cleared of charges.)