Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday called the acquittal of Janet Lim Napoles a “disturbing development” and pleaded to the courts not to be “bullied” by President Duterte.
“My appeal to the courts, the judges and justices is not to allow themselves to be bullied by the President into issuing unjust judgments,” De Lima said in a statement.
The statement came after Napoles was acquitted by the Court of Appeals on Monday for her serious illegal detention case. De Lima said she is worried that the judiciary is succumbing to Malacañang’s pressure.
“The day an independent judiciary ceases to act using only the scale of justice and instead allows itself to be dictated upon by the executive is the day we official become a dictatorship,” she said.
“Our justices are called ‘Justice’ for a reason. They are expected to give justice, especially when there is so much injustice around us. They are not prostitutes to be disrobed inside the bedrooms of Malacañang,” she said.
However, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Monday said there was no agreement between the Duterte administration and Napoles.
“Government is clear that there is no policy shift on how we deal with Napoles. Neither there is an agreement forged between the Duterte administration and Napoles,” he said.
Abella added that Duterte respects the independence of the court and “has vowed not to interfere with the decisions of the judiciary or legislature.”
As rumors of Napoles turning state witness for the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam cases surface, De Lima clarified that Napoles was not qualified because she was the “most guilty.”
She added that Napoles could not be relied upon as she was “too willing to fabricate her own testimony to save her skin at the expense of innocent Senators and Congressmen.”
“When we asked her to identify legislators, she asked us instead who among the Senators and Congressmen we wanted included in her PDAF list of clients,” she said.
According to De Lima, Napoles’ PDAF list of clients was a “product of her imagination,” and that Benhur Luy and other whistleblowers’ testimonies and documents were what they found credible.
De Lima warned that Duterte may use Napoles to threaten the remaining opposition in Congress.
She added that there is a possibility Napoles will be used against her for her “supposed selective prosecution” of the PDAF scam legislators when she was justice secretary.