MANILA – The camp of Janet Lim Napoles is filing several cases against journalists and whistleblowers who linked the businesswoman to the alleged P10 billion pork barrel scam.
Atty. Lorna Kapunan, lawyer of the Napoles family, said they will be filing perjury charges against primary whistleblowers Benhur Luy and Merlina Suñas for their accusations against Napoles.
Both Luy and Suñas are accusing Napoles of orchestrating a scheme involving fake non-government organizations in order to siphon Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel funds from lawmakers and government agencies.
The report on the alleged scam was first released by the daily broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer. It said around P10 billion in PDAF had been pocketed by Napoles, owner of JLN Corp, over the last 10 years. The alleged scam is now the subject of a probe by the National Bureau of Investigation.
Luy and Suñas have been admitted to the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice.
"Today magpa-file tayo ng perjury against Benhur Luy, kasi sworn statement ang sinubmit nila. Kami, hindi kami nagta-trial by publicity. If we accuse you, we will accuse you in the proper forum. Kasi pag binabasa na ng readers, naniniwala na sila," Kapunan told dzMM.
Kapunan added that perjury raps will also be filed against the parents of Luy.
Kapunan said Napoles will also file libel charges against the Inquirer for releasing "hearsay stories" that have besmirched the reputation of the businesswoman.
"Kasi nagiging trial by publicity lalo na ang PDI (Philippine Daily Inquirer), sasabihin ko na ang pangalan.We wrote the PDI, si Tita Letty Magsanoc (PDI editor-in-chief) to say, 'diba fair reporting, balanced news kayo? Bakit ganoon ang lumalabas?'" she said.
The lawyer said the Inquirer, since its release of the stories on the alleged pork barrel scam, has been "recklessly disregarding the truth." She said this act is considered a ground for the filing of libel charges.
"Hindi lang libel is publishing falsehood. Ang libel is also reckless disregard of the truth… Sa bansa natin, ang accusation, laging headline, pero iyung retraction, maliit na footnote," she said.
"The Inquirer and some of media practitioners are trying to prevent libel charge by saying 'allegedly'. 'Allegedly' is not an excuse for the [escaping] the responsibility of telling the truth."
Kapunan also belied the Inquirer's claims that the Napoles camp was unreachable for comment.
"The only time I said I will not give you docs is to Gil Cabacungan. When we texted him to say that 'my client does not trust you. We will present documents in the appropriate forum,' our concern is that she is being made the victim or scapegoat or smokescreen for all these PDAF scam schemes," she said.
A separate news report said Kapunan will also file a case against news website Rappler.
Kapunan said her client also prepared estafa charges against Luy for allegedly using her client's bank account to secure loans.
Apart from the estafa charges, the Napoles camp is also eyeing a "collections case" against designer Eddie Badeo for allegedly not delivering uniforms for JLN Corp's employees despite already receiving payment for them.
Kapunan said they will also file a disbarment case against the legal counsel of Luy, Atty. Levito Baligod.
She said the disbarment case stems from Baligod's attempt to extort money from her client in exchange for the dropping of the illegal detention charges filed by Luy against Napoles.
The illegal detention charges have since been dismissed.
Kapunan said they will also seek the help of the Commission on Human Rights for the NBI's warrantless arrests of Napoles and her brother, Reynaldo Lim.
Luy earlier accused Napoles and Lim of illegally detaining him for fear the pork barrel scam would be revealed to the public.
Kapunan said the Napoles camp already sent a letter to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to check on the NBI team's raid in her condominium without warrant.
"We are also filing with the CHR a case of violation of human rights because no citizen can be subject to a warrantless arrest," she said.
"In fairness to her (de Lima), we understand that she has asked this NBI team to explain. Pero bakit hanggang ngayon bakit hindi pa kami tinatawag?"