De Lima on Napoles as state witness: Justice in PH now a joke

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 30 2017 04:05 PM

Detained Senator Leila de Lima. File

Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday said justice in the country has become "a joke" after the government decided to re-open the pork barrel scam case and anchor it on alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles' testimony.

"Justice in the Philippines is now a joke... Unfortunately, it's a joke that imprisons and punishes the innocents and rewards the criminals," De Lima said in a statement.

De Lima, who headed the Department of Justice (DOJ) when the first probe was conducted, said she is suspicious of the department’s plans to launch a fresh probe, and alleged that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre is out to persecute members of the opposition.

"The Department of Justice has turned into a department for the persecution of the opposition," De Lima said.

In 2015, the Makati Regional Trial Court sentenced Napoles to up to 40 years in prison for her aide Benhur Luy's illegal detention. The Court of Appeals, however, overturned the conviction "based on reasonable doubt."

Napoles is also facing plunder and graft cases at the Sandiganbayan over the scam.

Since her acquittal for illegal detention, Napoles has been in talks with the government to turn her into a state witness after she vowed to name other top officials allegedly involved in the racket. 

Napoles is expected to tag former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and Senators Leila De Lima, Antonio Trillanes, Franklin Drilon. 

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said Monday she would not prevent the Department of Justice from securing an affidavit from Napoles, who is accused of helping government officials steal from Congressional funds.

Trillanes has denied any involvement in the scam and accused Aguirre of using his power to "persecute and harass" critics of President Rodrigo Duterte. 

"Aguirre has been using his office to persecute and harass members of the opposition by fabricating testimonies from dubious convicts or detainees such as the Bilibid drug lords, Kerwin Espinosa and now Napoles," he said in a text message to ABS-CBN News yesterday. 
 
Trillanes also noted that he was never even mentioned in any of Napoles' list of lawmakers who abused their PDAF, which she provided during the height of the investigations in 2013. 

Drilon said the allegation that he misused public funds was "a blatant lie." 

"This is outright black propaganda and political harassment intended to silence the members of the opposition. If this is not revenge, I don't know what it is," said Drilon, a stalwart of the Liberal Party and head of the Senate minority bloc, where Trillanes and De Lima belong. 

In previous interviews, Abad denied dealing with Napoles and said he found it "amusing" that he was being implicated in the anomaly.