Morales: I’ll have last say on pork raps
Suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles is free to implicate anyone in the scam but the Ombudsman would still have the last say on the matter, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said on Monday.
“She’s at liberty to press any charge against anybody,” Morales said after Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II revealed Napoles is set to file charges against former Senate president Franklin Drilon, Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV, as well as former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
“[But] even if she gives a testimony against all persons in the world, it’s still the Ombudsman who will determine if she can qualify as a witness against those who have not been indicted in court,” Morales said.
The Ombudsman also revealed that she had received feelers for a meeting with Napoles but turned them down.
“There was an attempt to ask me before to meet with Napoles, but what for? There are investigators who can talk to her,” Morales said.
Besides, Morales said new charges by Napoles would have “no bearing” on the cases already pending against her and several legislators.
“Probably, [Napoles] forged an agreement with [the Department of Justice] that she’s going to come up with an affidavit, a notarized statement,” she said.
Aguirre later told reporters that Napoles had indeed executed an affidavit but he had not seen it nor did he have a role in its preparation.
“Once filed with us, we will immediately investigate,” Aguirre said, reiterating that he only learned of the sworn statement through Napoles’ lawyer Stephen David.
But Aguirre conceded that the Ombudsman will have jurisdiction of any charge that might arise.
“If the DOJ will find probable cause, then we will forward it to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman has the primary jurisdiction of cases involving government officials,” he said.
“Nothing can prevent the DOJ from talking to the principal suspect because they believe that she has a bombshell” but the final charges, if any, would have to go through the Ombudsman, Morales said.
“Since these are high-profile officials, if they [the DOJ] have to conclude at all their findings, their findings will come to us,” she said.
Morales also said it would also be a “fallacy” to consider Napoles a state witness because her office would also have to decide that.
Meanwhile, Drilon and Trillanes slammed Aguirre for insinuating they misused their pork barrel funds and for harassing opposition lawmakers.
“This is outright black propaganda and political harassment intended to silence members of the opposition,” Drilon said in a statement.
“Aguirre has been using his office to persecute and harass members of the opposition by fabricating testimonies,” Trillanes said.