MANILA, Philippines – Janet Lim-Napoles’ counsel on Thursday questioned the undue haste in which the Makati Regional Trial Court ordered the arrest of her client.
“We question the motives of the Secretary of Justice. Is she under pressure? Is this becoming political? Are they looking for a convenient scapegoat?” lawyer Lorna Kapunan said in an interview with Radyo Inquirer 990AM.
Napoles and her brother Reynald “Jojo” Lim are being accused of detaining whistleblower Benhur Luy for three months before he was rescued at Napoles’ Taguig condo by the National Bureau of Investigation in March.
The serious illegal detention case was filed at the Makati court on Tuesday, after Prosecutor General Claro Arellano reversed the dismissal of the case by Assistant State Prosecutor General Juan Pedro Navera.
On Wednesday morning, the case was raffled off to Judge Elmo Alameda, branch 150 of the Makati RTC.
De Lima said the arrest warrants were released in the afternoon but Kapunan insisted that they were released after office hours.
Kapunan also questioned the lodging of the case when it was initially dismissed by prosecutors for lack of probable cause. She said they have CCTV footage and 17 sworn statements from credible witnesses, including priests, which prove that Luy wasn’t detained and was able to “move freely with his own volition” during his so-called retreat.
“There is so much lack of transparency. That is why this is shocking coming from someone as respected as Justice Secretary [Leila De Lima],” Kapunan said, questioning the special raffle of the case and the immediate issuance of an arrest warrant.
Kapunan also said they were surprised that the court ordered Napoles’ arrest when a day before De Lima assured them of a fair trial.
The lawyer said there is also hearsay that there was a midnight meeting at the DOJ where De Lima called for the reversal of the decision and the immediate arrest of Napoles.
“We welcome the secretary if she will say that it is not true. I don’t doubt her integrity but if these are the things we hear…” Kapunan said.
Napoles, who is still in hiding, is also being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation for allegedly masterminding the P10 billion pork barrel scam. After Luy’s rescue, he revealed that Napoles and her relatives had set-up and used non-government organizations to strike deals with lawmakers for the liquidation of their Priority Development Assistance Fund.
Originally posted at 2:44 p.m.