'After pork scam denial, how can Napoles be a state witness?'

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 11 2017 11:25 AM

Members of the Bureau of Correction guide Janet Lim Napoles as she arrives at the Sandiganbayan on Wednesday. Napoles signed a pre-trial order in her case involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of former APEC Party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - How can businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the face of the previous administration's anti-corruption drive, serve as state witness in the P10-billion pork barrel scam when she had previously denied any hand in the controversy?

This was the question raised by a member of the academe on Thursday after the justice department floated the idea of turning Napoles into a state witness.

"Napoles testified several times before the Senate. Throughout these hearings, she consistently denied that she handed sums of money to legislators or that they participated in a scam," San Beda Graduate School of Law Dean Fr. Ranhilio Aquino said in an interview with radio DZMM.

A state witness, Aquino said, should have information vital to the prosecution and should be the least guilty party in a crime.

The law dean added that Napoles would open herself to perjury and wrongful testimony charges if she reverses her previous Senate testimony in order to affirm the involvement of officials in the pork barrel scam.

Aquino also cast doubt on the need to get Napoles as state witness, noting that prosecutors had already said their case was strong -- the same reason that former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla were jailed over the scandal.

"Why is it that all of a sudden, the prosecution now says that they need a state witness?" he asked.

Aquino also pointed out that the Office of the Ombudsman, not the Department of Justice, is the scandal's lead prosecutor and it has yet to issue a statement on Napoles.

Last Monday, the Court of Appeals found “reasonable doubt” to acquit Napoles for the crime of serious illegal detention in connection with the alleged abduction and detention of her former aide and relative, Benhur Luy.