MANILA -- Lawyer Lorna Kapunan denied having been paid P20 million for accepting the Janet Napoles case.
She also dismissed rumors that she received properties “and this or that” as compensation for representing Napoles, who has been accused of allegedly pocketing public funds running into billions.
“Those who know me will not believe this. Those who don’t know me are free to think what they want,” she told ABS-CBN’s "Bottomline."
The usually tough Kapunan admitted to being affected, however, since she has five boys.
“I have five boys who believe lawyering is a way of helping. We still live in a modest house,” she said, adding that her five children understand the situation she is in, having inculcated in them that “whatever you do, you have to do it well.”
She said that when she took on the case, she understood that negative public opinion could hurt her 38-year career as a lawyer.
In malls and public places, Kapunan said she has heard people even cussing at her. “I don’t say anything. You can’t descend to their level. Hindi nila kasalanan 'yung nababasa nila sa media,” she said.
On social media, Kapunan is also being demonized as Napoles herself. “We have superimposed images on Facebook…Am I affected? I think I would be a hypocrite to say I’m not affected. Will it deter me from doing what I know is right? No,” she said.
The lawyer also said she has been receiving death threats but added that it is the legacy of her father that keeps her going amid the accusations and allegations.
“I’m very strong in knowing what is right and wrong. It’s a legacy that my father, [former Supreme Court Justice Lino Patajo], taught us to live by. Here, I see that it’s very wrong to make a single individual the fall guy for everything that has gone on for ages,” she said.
She said helping Napoles in the case is only a continuation of her advocacy to have the pork barrel and other similar funds abolished.
Kapunan helped in bringing former Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to jail for her alleged role in using the intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
She also represented the Kilusaing Makabansang Ekonomiya that questioned the use of agriculture funds.
A member of the latter, Bishop Julio Labayen, would later ask her to look into the Napoles case.
Asked if she believe Napoles is innocent, Kapunan merely said: “The innocence or guilt of a person is not the function of a lawyer or for the public to judge. The lawyer is there to provide the client with available remedies under the law.”
She said she only made a judgment that “this is a case I want to win in terms that I want the PDAF to be abolished and the crooks to go to jail.”
While Napoles may now be the villain, Kapunan said there will come a time that she will be remembered in history “as someone who has opened the door to us figuring out: Do we really need the PDAF? The senators, congressmen, mayors, secretaries should not get away from fooling people.”
She hopes Napoles will not become a “broken person” amid being detained in a cell sans windows.
So how wealthy really is Napoles? Kapunan said she has not seen the extent of her wealth.
Nonetheless, she said she believes what Napoles have told her, which includes their money coming from a coal business abroad.
“She has a very generous soul. I’ve seen that in her,” Kapunan said.