MANILA—Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Thursday said alleged pork barrel scam Janet Lim-Napoles is willing to name more government officials involved the anomalous releases of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) but was being blackmailed by a certain group that is holding his brother Reynald “Jojo” Lim.
“Yang kapatid (Jojo) niyang yan nakaprenda para hindi magsalita si Janet (Her brother is being withheld to prevent her from speaking),” Aguirre told reporters during the press briefing.
However, the DOJ chief said the information that he received about it remains raw and has to be investigated.
“Very raw yan, pero yun ang pagkaalam ko,” he said.
When asked whether Lim is being used to blackmail Napoles, Aguirre replied: “Yun ang lumalabas eh.”
The DOJ chief refused to reveal who is holding the brother of Napoles.
“Pag medyo malakas na ang ebidensya (When there is enough evidence it will be revealed),” he assured.
Lim was Napoles’ co-accused in the serious illegal detention case filed by whistleblower Benhuy Luy.
The siblings were accused of detaining pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy from December 2012 until his supposed rescue by the NBI on March 2013.
Ever since the case was filed before the Makati court up to the CA acquital, Lim has remained at large up to now.
Recently, the Court of Appeals (CA) 12th Division reversed the decision of a Makati City court which convicted her and her brother in a serious illegal detention case.
Meanwhile, Aguirre said he supports the transfer of Napoles to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) detention cell from the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW).
After meeting with Napoles’ lawyer Stephen David on Thursday, the DOJ Secretary said he immediately instructed the NBI to check the possible detention facility in its headquarters in Manila for Napoles.
“I’m talking to NBI officials of the possibility if Napoles could still be accommodated in the NBI, in view of the continued threats against her,” he told a press conference in the afternoon.
Aguirre agreed with the position of Napoles’ camp that she should no longer stay at the CIW following her recent acquittal in the serious illegal detention case by the Court of Appeals.
“Now that she’s no longer a convict, she should no longer stay in a Bureau of Corrections facility. The facility for her should be for detention prisoners only,” he explained.
Aguirre further bared that the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) has already filed a manifestation before the Sandiganbayan where Napoles is facing non-bailable plunder and graft cases over the pork barrel scam, seeking clarification on her detention in the CIW.
For his part, David, who also represented Napoles in her pork barrel scam cases at the Sandiganbayan, had filed a motion before the Sandiganbayan, where Napoles is facing plunder and graft cases, seeking her transfer from the Correctional Institute of Women (CIW) to the National Bureau of Investigation or the Philippine National Police custodial center following her acquittal in the serious illegal detention case by the Court of Appeals.
David recalled that the possibility of Napoles becoming state witness was already raised before the Office of the Ombudsman during the previous administration, but it was only after her acquittal in the serious illegal detention case when it is now being pursued by the government.
David disclosed that Napoles is willing to cooperate with the reinvestigation of the DOJ on the multi-billion-peso anomaly.
“Of course, there will be more officials (to be named),” he told reporters in the DOJ after a closed-door meeting with the DOJ Secretary.
The lawyer hinted that the list would also include an official in the previous administration who was “higher than lawmakers.”
“If she (Napoles) will become state witness, she should tell everything she knows… Whoever is involved should really be exposed,” he stressed.
“Whatever the truth is, it should come out. Because the truth will set you free,” he added.
The lawyer admitted he does not know how much Napoles would reveal or who were the government officials involved in the PDAF scam.
“Hind ko masasagot yan kasi siya lang ang nakakaalam niyan (I can’t answer that because she alone knows about the scam),” he said.
The lawyer believes Napoles, who faces multiple charges of plunder, graft, and direct bribery at the Sandiganbayan, passes the requirement in becoming state witness being s the least guilty in the scam.
“The case of plunder is crime committed by a public officer,” he explained.
“Nagkataon na nasasama ang private individuals kung may conspiracy, kung tumutulong sila sa pagpapayaman ng public official (Private individuals just get dragged in a plunder case because they help the public official get rich,” David said.
Aguirre said he is likely to form a panel of prosecutors to conduct the reinvestigation of the pork barrel scam.