MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration is using alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles to divert public attention from the controversies it is facing, an official of the Liberal Party said Thursday.
Napoles, who allegedly helped lawmakers funnel their discretionary funds into bogus projects, has been placed under the witness protection program since February, the Department of Justice said last week.
Her lawyer, Stephen David, had hinted at Napoles' knowledge of irregularities in the Disbursement Acceleration Program under LP leader and former president Benigno Aquino III's administration.
Napoles' admission into the WPP came as the administration grappled with public uproar over the initial dismissal of charges against confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, and a preliminary probe against Duterte before the International Criminal Court, said LP vice president for external affairs Erin Tañada.
"Magaling sila mag-deflect e. 'Pag sila'y humaharap sa iba't ibang issues, iyung administration ngayon, lumalabas iyung mga iba't ibang issues laban sa oposisyon," he told ANC's "Headstart."
(They are good at deflecting. When the administration is faced with various issues like now, issues against the opposition also surface.)
"It's strategic... Naghahanap sila ng issue para malihis at hindi na mapag-usapan itong mga importanteng issue," he added.
(They are looking for other issues so that important matters are not discussed anymore.)
Napoles is facing plunder charges for conniving with several lawmakers to funnel P10 billion of their priority development assistance funds into bogus projects.
She allegedly poured in P100 million to the campaign kitty of LP's senatorial candidates in 2010.
Tañada rejected this, challenging accusers to "Bring out the witnesses... They have to prove it."
Malacañang denied forging any compromise deal with Napoles or giving her lawyer legal advice during a meeting with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre.