Drilon says no state witness deal with Napoles

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Senate President Franklin Drilon INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Senate President Franklin Drilon on Friday said there was no arrangement to make Janet Lim-Napoles a state witness but in the course of an ambush interview referred to her as a “witness.”

Drilon, in an ambush interview transcript sent to media, said there are standards in determining if a person should be a state witness.

“First of all, [state witnesses] should be least guilty. Second, their testimony should be necessary in the successful prosecution of the case. That is now in the hands of the Department of Justice because they know what evidences they have,” he said.

However, when asked whether Napoles was being given special treatment, he said, “Hindi naman po totoo yan. Ang seguridad ng testigo, sino mang testigo, lalo na sa malaking kaso, ay dapat pangalagaan. (That is not true. The security of a witness, any witness, especially those of important cases, should be protected),” Drilon said.

The Senate President also defended President Benigno Aquino III’s decision to facilitate Napoles’ surrender.

“Bago nahuli si Napoles ay talagang lahat ay nagsasabi, ‘Bakit hindi ninyo hinuhuli?’ … Ngayon, pag hindi tinanggap ng Pangulo, ay sasabihin, ‘Bakit hindi mo tinanggap?’ (Before Napoles was arrested, everyone was saying, ‘Why she’s not being arrested?’… Now, if the President doesn’t accept [Napoles’ request to surrender to him], they will ask, ‘Why didn’t you accept?’),” Drilon said.

He said Aquino’s decision to personally accept Napoles’ surrender was a “judgment call” and based on his view that it would be of “greater help to our justice [system].”

Drilon, however, said he was not aware of Napoles’ situation at the Makati City Jail.

Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the P10 billion pork barrel scam, surrendered to Aquino on Wednesday night. She went into hiding after the Makati Regional Trial Court issued a warrant for her arrest on October 14 over illegal detention charges filed against her and brother Reynald Lim.

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