MANILA—Some lawmakers on Thursday sought for explanation on the decision of Solicitor General Jose Calida to move for the acquittal of alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles from illegal detention charges filed against her by whistle-blower Benhur Luy.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, a staunch ally of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, said that he asked for an explanation but raised the possibility that it is part of the administration’s “strategy” which had yet to be revealed.
Cayetano said the government never acted without a strategy and speculated that the administration is also working towards punishing those involved in the multi-million peso scam but are being “protected”.
He also assured that the Durterte administration is serious in eliminating corruption in the government.
“I also want the SolGen to answer, but I guarantee you that the President will not allow any corruption to happen during the administration. And he will not absolve those who were corrupt in past administrations,” Cayetano told reporters in an interview.
“If there’s no strategy, this is unfortunate that it happened but if there’s a strategy, we should know what that is,” he added, noting that he is willing to wait for the SolGen to explain before making assumptions.
He also questioned the cases filed in the past administration under former Pres. Benigno Aquino III, which he described as “weak”.
“How come the cases filed in the Aquino administration are weak? In Napoles’ case, there were some involved in the controversy who were not included in cases filed during the last administration,” he pointed out.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, for her part, described the decision as “disturbing news” and failed to understand why the SolGen came up with the decision.
Hontiveros further said that this development is a challenge to the administration’s fight against corruption.
“I call on the administration of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to shed light on the issue. I also call on the public to closely monitor this issue, especially on the plunder cases against Napoles and others involved in the pork barrel scam,” Hontiveros said.
House Deputy Minority Leader Harry Roque said that he was not surprised that there are several lawmakers who questioned the decision especially since Napoles has had a reputation of “bribing” government officials.
He, however, urged the SolGen to have “full transparency” and show evidence that prove why Napoles should not be jailed for illegal detention charges.
The congressman also asked the public not to worry as Napoles is still facing plunder charges which meant she could still be sentenced to lifetime imprisonment.
The Office of the Solicitor General is convinced of Napoles’ innocence due to the fact that Luy was not restrained and was even able to see his family three times during his supposed captivity.
Luy, who was employed in Napoles’s JLN Group of Companies, claimed he was detained by Napoles and her brother, Reynaldo “Jojo” Lim at the Bahay ni San Jose, a Catholic retreat house in Magallanes Village, Makati City, occupied by priests, and then at the Pacific Plaza Towers in Taguig City, where the Napoles family resides.
Calida said there is no witness who testified about Luy’s detention.
He added that Luy was able to see his family and even resisted when National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents were supposed to rescue him at Napoles’residence in Taguig on March 2013.