MANILA- Detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Monday raised doubts on the looming new probe of the Department of Justice (DOJ) into the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
De Lima, who headed the DOJ when the first probe was conducted, said she is suspicious of the department’s plans to launch a fresh probe anchored on the testimonies of alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
“Anyone can make a list. It is another thing to back up this list with documentary evidence. I am highly doubtful and suspicious of this kind of investigative and prosecutorial approach of the DOJ,” De Lima said in a handwritten note released to the media.
De Lima also slammed Napoles as a “polluted source” who was “willing to implicate anyone in exchange for being discharged as a state witness and save her own skin.”
“She was then willing to lie to avoid imprisonment. With her acquittal (in the serious illegal detention case) under this administration, it appears that she has finally succeeded in closing the deal that the past administration of the DOJ under my leadership refused her,” De Lima said.
Napoles is accused as the brains behind the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam racket, one of the biggest corruption scandals to unravel in the Philippines.
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 last week, however, overturned the conviction "based on reasonable doubt."
Following her acquittal, Napoles’ lawyers have engaged in talks with government to turn her into a state witness after she vowed to name other top officials allegedly involved in the racket.
“All of the actions of the government in causing the acquittal of Napoles and making her a state witness bear the hallmarks of an upcoming government witch hunt,” De Lima said.
“It is regrettable when the real criminal mastermind is exonerated and the innocent persecuted, merely in order for an already despotic regime to achieve absolute political dominance by silencing any remaining opposition with threats of persecution,” she added.
The senator alleged that she too was a “victim” of the DOJ when she was linked to the illegal drug trade on the testimonies of convicted drug lords.
“I myself am a victim of such actions of the DOJ, when trumped-up charges were filed against me solely on the basis of testimonies of criminal convicts, devoid of any documentary or object evidence,” she said.
De Lima also defended the pork barrel scam investigation under her time after criticism that there was "selective justice" in the department’s handling of cases, calling allegations “misleading.”
She said the PDAF investigations conducted during her term resulted in 3 batches of complaints filed with the Ombudsman which in turn have already been filed with the Sandiganbayan.
De Lima added that if her successor Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and Solicitor General Jose Calida are banking on Napoles as their sole source for the new probe, it should be backed with documentary evidence.
"Any new charges should be based on documentary evidence. I doubt if Napoles will be able to produce such evidence, considering that she had no evidence to produce herself when she approached me as the DOJ Secretary with a supposedly extended list of legislators—clients," she said.