Palace laughs off claims it’s protecting Napoles
President Duterte’s spokesperson on Sunday laughed off insinuations that Malacañang was protecting alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Interviewed over state radio dzRB, Ernesto Abella said Solicitor General Jose Calida merely manifested what he believed was right after the chief state lawyer moved to acquit Napoles in her 2015 conviction for unlawfully detaining her cousin and former aide, Benhur Luy.
Luy blew the whistle on how Napoles allegedly used her network of spurious foundations to hoodwink the government of P10 billion in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), better known as pork barrel, of lawmakers.
However, Abella admitted that he was not aware if the Duterte administration had indeed brokered a deal with Napoles.
Asked if the government was protecting Napoles, he replied with a laugh: “Seriously? I doubt that.”
Mr. Duterte has named Lanee David, one of Napoles’ lawyers, as deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which the President regarded as the most corrupt government agency.
David’s husband, Stephen, who is Napoles’ chief counsel, has been seen at several official functions in Malacañang.
The Davids and two other lawyers for Napoles—Dennis Buenaventura and Bruce Rivera—are graduates of San Beda College, where the President also finished his law degree.
Calida’s decision to file a manifestation before the Court of Appeals in support of Napoles’ motion to nullify her conviction triggered questions even from supporters of Mr. Duterte, who had vowed to stem corruption during his term.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, one of the President’s staunchest defenders, surmised that Calida’s move was part of a “strategy.”
“If there is no strategy, then this is a bad thing to happen,” Cayetano said.
Parrying criticisms, Calida reiterated that the Office of the Solicitor General “is the defender of the republic and at the same time the tribune of the people.”
“Justice will not send an innocent person to the gallows. It is my bound duty to state the facts,” the solicitor general said.
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