The lawyer of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, who is at the center of the pork barrel scandal involving several lawmakers and dubious nongovernment organizations, is set to file a string of cases against her client’s accusers, their counsel, law enforcers, two news organizations and fashion designer Eddie Baddeo.
Lawyer Lorna Kapunan said in radio interviews that the Inquirer and the online news portal Rappler.com were liable for libel for failing to get the side of Napoles and her daughter, and for printing “false” stories about them.
“We want to test this so-called good faith in reporting. Using ‘alleged’ in your story is not a license to commit falsehood. If you say something is ‘alleged’ and print it (the story) based on hearsay, and say the other camp can’t be reached for their side—which is not true—that is not a defense to libel,” Kapunan said.
Trial by publicity
The lawyer said articles that were based on unverified “testimonials” had the tendency of subjecting her client to “trial by publicity.”
She said the reporters who wrote the stories against her client and her daughter never tried to get their side.
Kapunan said Napoles’ camp could just as easily commit trial by publicity by naming the people funding the campaign against her client in print and broadcast media.
The lawyer said Napoles would also be filing a case in the Commission on Human Rights regarding the arrest of the businesswoman and her brother Reynaldo by National Bureau of Investigation agents upon the request of Benhur Luy’s parents, who claimed Luy was detained against his will.
Kapunan said the charges of illegal detention against Napoles and Reynaldo had been dismissed but the NBI arrested the two based on the letter-request from Luy’s parents.
The lawyer said Napoles would also be suing whistle-blowers Luy and Merlina Suñas, as well as Luy’s parents for perjury for accusing the businesswoman of siphoning off lawmakers’ pork barrel and of illegal detention.
Kapunan said a disbarment case would also be filed in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines against Luy’s lawyer, Levito Baligod, for allegedly extorting money from her client in exchange for her being cleared in the scandal by Luy.
Also to be sued for estafa by Napoles is another whistle-blower, designer Eddie Baddeo, who allegedly pocketed the P1 million given to him by Napoles to buy uniforms of employees of JLN, a company owned by the businesswoman.
Kapunan said the cases would be filed in the cities of Taguig, Pasig, Makati and Quezon.