SolGen Calida blasts Kiko over proposals to make Napoles state witness


Posted at May 13 2017 08:53 PM

SolGen Calida blasts Kiko over proposals to make Napoles state witness 1

MANILA- "Why do you keep on sticking your nose in this judicial process?"

This was the message of Solicitor General Jose Calida to Liberal Party (LP) President Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan following the latter's criticism of moves to turn Janet Lim Napoles a state witness in the P10-billion pork barrel scam she allegedly masterminded.

In a tweet on Saturday, Calida took a swipe at Pangilinan, asking whether he was afraid that Napoles would unmask the "hypocrisy" of the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.

"Are you afraid Napoles will unmask the supercilious hypocrisy of the unlamented "Daang Matuwid" regime?" Calida said.

It followed earlier posts where he twitted Pangilinan and even Sen. Risa Hontiveros for being "agitated" over Napoles' acquittal.

His tweets were an apparent reference to criticism that there was "selective justice" in the LP-led Aquino administration's handling of cases that stemmed from the pork barrel scam during its time.

Among those indicted for several cases of graft, plunder and fund malversation were former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, former House of Representatives members, heads of agencies and key legislative staff. 

The previous administration had denied bias in its investigation of the scam. 

Now in talks with government to turn state witness, Napoles has vowed to name other top officials allegedly involved in the racket. 

ABS-CBN News reached out to Pangilinan for comment but he did not respond.

The Solicitor General moved for Napoles' acquittal in her illegal detention case earlier this year. On Monday, Calida said "justice prevailed" when the Court of Appeals acquitted Napoles, reversing a lower court ruling that found her guilty of illegally detaining whistleblower Benhur Luy.

Napoles is accused as the brains behind the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam racket, one of the biggest scandals to unravel during the Aquino administration.

In 2015, the Makati Regional Trial Court sentenced Napoles to up to 40 years in prison for Luy's illegal detention. This as she faced plunder and graft cases at the Sandiganbayan over the scam.

The Court of Appeals on Monday, however, overturned the conviction "based on reasonable doubt."

Pangilinan on Friday asserted that Napoles was the "mastermind" of the scam and that the businesswoman would say anything "just to save her skin."

"Mastermind ang tawag 'dun at hindi dapat pumayag ang korte na maabswelto siya," he said.

(You call that a mastermind and the court should not allow her to be cleared of charges.)

Calida reminded Pangilinan that only the court and the prosecutor are the ones involved in turning Napoles a state witness.

"Who are involved in the process of making an accused a state witness? The prosecutor and the court," he said.

On Thursday, Napoles' legal counsel said he has met with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to discuss the possibility of her admission as a state witness.

Aguirre also announced that the justice department will undertake a fresh investigation into the pork barrel scam and will not adopt the findings of of the panel formed by former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, under whose time the scam was bared. 

"We'll not be adopting the findings, if any, [of the] De Lima-constituted panel," Aguirre said, vowing that there would be no "selective justice" in the new probe.