Napoles hires new lawyer for theft case

JANET Lim-Napoles has acquired a new lawyer for her plunder case but he or she will not arrive in time to help her in the Senate hearing today, her lawyer in her serious illegal-detention case said Wednesday.

Lawyer Fred Villamor said Napoles’ camp had been finalizing an agreement with the new lawyer to represent the detained businesswoman in the plunder complaint against her.

“She doesn’t have a lawyer but she is talking to someone,” Villamor said.

“I’m not at the liberty to divulge it [the new lawyer’s name] right now. The lawyer is still in the United States.”

Napoles is accused of conniving with lawmakers to channel their pork barrel appropriations worth billions into her fake non-government organizations in exchange for kickbacks.

Villamor is handling the serious illegal- detention case filed by Benhu Luy, one of the whistle blowers, against Napoles in the alleged pork-barrel scam. He replaced Lorna Kapunan who has withdrawn as Napoles’ counsel in both the illegal-detention and plunder cases.

Persida Acosta, head of the Public Attorney’s Office, said Wednesday his office would send at least three lawyers to represent Napoles at the Senate’s Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the alleged pork barrel scam today.

She said committee chairman Teofisto Guingona III had requested her to send a lawyer to represent Napoles.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said Napoles could not defy the Senate order for her to appear in today’s hearing.

Napoles earlier wrote the Blue Ribbon Committee asking it to defer today’s hearing following Kapunan’s resignation, but Guingona stood firm on his decision to proceed with it.

The people who blew the whistle on Napoles’ alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam were ready to confront Napoles in today’s hearing, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said. She added that she told them to just tell the truth.

“Of course, if she [Napoles] will say something that the whistle blowers know for a fact not to be not correct, not accurate or not true, I supposed they would be constrained to speak up and refute,” De Lima said.

But she said she expected Napoles to just deny the allegations against her.

She also said the involvement of some 10 to 15 lawmakers in the alleged pork barrel scam was discovered by the National Bureau of Investigations while they were looking into Napoles’ case.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said she had high hopes Napoles would not drop any names in Congress because no congressman had had any transactions with her.

Villamor saied he begged off from assisting Napoles in the Senate hearing because he only agreed to handle her serious illegal-detention case.

“We have talked about it and Mrs. Napoles understands why I don’t want to be involved in the PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund] issue,” Villamor said.

“From the very beginning I have made it clear that my engagement is on the illegal-detention case only.”

Villamor said he hoped the Makati court would grant their petition for bail in Napoles’ illegal-detention case.

“The trial in the Makati court, by way of cross-examination, we believe we have proven to the court that Benhur Luy was not kidnapped. He voluntarily went on a retreat,” Villamor said, citing the Justice Department’s previous resolution dismissing the illegal-detention complaint against Napoles.

But the department then reversed its ruling and filed charges against Napoles at the Makati court, Villamor said. With Rio N. Araja, Macon Ramos-Araneta, Rey E, Requejo and Maricel V. Cruz


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