Pork scam reinvestigation a witch hunt, says De Lima
Senator Leila de Lima suspects that the Duterte administration is setting the stage for an “upcoming government witch hunt.”
De Lima raised her suspicion on Monday amid the government’s reported plan to re-open the so-called “pork barrel” scam probe and use alleged mastermind, detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, as a state witness.
“All of the actions of the government in causing the acquittal of Napoles and making her a state witness bear the hallmarks of an upcoming government witch hunt,” the senator said in a statement from her detention at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center.
“It is regrettable when the real criminal mastermind is exonerated and the innocent persecuted, merely in order for an already despotic regime to achieve absolute political dominance by silencing any remaining opposition with threats of persecution,” she said.
De Lima, who has been charged and detained over alleged drug links, also slammed Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II for making it appear that the pork scam probe conducted during her term as Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ), was not “exhaustive” and that only three senators had been prosecuted as a result.
The three charged over pork barrel scam were former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. Like De Lima, Estrada and Revilla have been detained at the PNP Custodial Center while Enrile had been allowed by the court to post bail.
“He (Aguirre) is now claiming that Janet Lim-Napoles has a lot more information to reveal. These are, are at least, misleading assertions,” De Lima said.
The lady senator pointed out that the investigation conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation, which is under the DOJ, had resulted in the filing of complaints at the Office of the Ombudsman against several lawmakers.
But Aguirre has assured that there will be no selective justice in connection with the reinvestigation of PDAF scam cases.
“I can assure you that unlike the previous administration, there will be no selective justice in our reinvestigation. We will only be guided by evidence here,” Aguirre said Monday.
READ: No selective justice in pork scam reinvestigation – Aguirre
“The Ombudsman has already filed cases with the Sandiganbayan against several of these legislators. These cases are progressing at this very moment,” she said.
De Lima said Napoles was a “polluted source,” who she said was willing to implicate anyone in exchange for being discharged as a state witness and save her own skin.”
“She was then willing to lie to avoid imprisonment. With her acquittal (in the serious illegal detention case) under this administration, it appears that she has finally succeeded in closing the deal that the past administration of the DOJ under my leadership refused her,” she said.
De Lima said any new charges should be based on documentary evidence.
“I doubt if Napoles will be able to produce such evidence, considering that she had no evidence to produce herself when she approached me as the DOJ Secretary with a supposedly extended list of legislators—clients.”
“Anyone can make a list. It is another thing to back up this list with documentary evidence. I am highly doubtful and suspicious of this kind of investigative and prosecutorial approach of the DOJ. I myself am a victim of such actions of the DOJ, when trumped-up charges were filed against me solely on the basis of testimonies of criminal convicts, devoid of any documentary or object evidence,” she added.
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