THE Palace said Friday it was high time that officials involved in the massive looting of Priority Development Assistance Funds are held accountable and welcomed a Senate plan to conduct a new investigation into the revelations of alleged pork barrel queen Janet Lim Napoles, who has offered herself as a state witness.
“The Filipino people deserve to know the truth in this case, not the slanted truth nor the doctored truth,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said,.
“The President wants the truth to finally come out and to hold those involved, regardless of political color or party line, accountable,” he said.
Before leaving for official visits abroad, Duterte said he believes that Napoles was a “minimal player” in the PDAF cases, and suggested in the past that there might have been higher officials involved in the scam.
On Thursday, Senator Francis Escudero said he could seek a new inquiry into the PDAF scandal that erupted during the Aquino administration.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II earlier said Napoles, who was recently acquitted by the Court of Appeals of serious illegal detention charges filed by her second cousin, Benhur Luy, was a key witness.
Napoles on Friday filed an urgent motion with the anti-graft court, the Sandiganbayan, to be transferred from the Correctional Institute for Women to the National Bureau of Investigation, claiming she received daily death threats and that her belongings were ransacked.
Because of her acquittal in the illegal detention case, Napoles’ lawyer said, she could no longer be considered a convict, and therefore should be moved out of the correctional facility.
Napoles’ lawyer, Stephen David, said the threats came after news circulated that she might become a state witness.
Napoles is facing multiple counts of plunder and graft raps for the P10-billion pork barrel fund scam involving former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr., and other lawmakers as well.
The Department of Justice said Napoles could possibly be a state witness in the other pork bark fund scam cases.
The public prosecution will submit its reply to Napoles’ urgent motion on May 15.
Amid reports that Napoles wanted to be a state witness, Liberal Party president Francis Pangilinan said she would say anything to save her skin.
He said he was baffled why Napoles, who received the biggest kickbacks from the pork barrel schemes, could be considered as a state witness.
Napoles has been accused of amassing huge sums of ill-gotten wealth by having lawmakers channel their PDAF through bogus non-government organizations that she controled in exchange for huge kickbacks.
“We just hope that the court, which has the final say if she can be a witness or not, would not allow this to happen. We believe that the court will not allow her to be a witness because our justice system would become a laughing stock if the one who pocketed the biggest funds from the government, who took the biggest share from all the accused, would be cleared,” Pangilinan said.
“She has been called the mastermind [of the scam] and the court should not let her go free,” he said. With Macon Ramos Araneta
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