De Lima all for charging Napoles with perjury, contempt over hearing
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday backed moves by Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Francis Escudero to charge suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles with perjury and contempt following her testimony before the Senate blue ribbon committee on Thursday.
“Senators Alan’s and Chiz’s proposed moves or courses of action would be well-justified. I’m all for the filing of perjury and contempt raps versus Napoles, given her evasive posturings, if not downright lies, during the Senate hearing,” De Lima said in a statement.
Senate blue ribbon committee chair Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said he and his colleagues would study the transcripts to consider the matter.
De Lima had accompanied to the hearing the scam whistle-blowers led by Benhur Luy, who countered the denials made by Napoles.
Luy is a relative and former employee of Napoles whose complaint that he had been illegally detained by his employer led to the unraveling of the P10-billion scam that involved the diversion of the legislative Priority Assistance Development Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, to fake nongovernment organizations. Napoles is accused of being the mastermind of the operation, reportedly taking 30 to 40 percent of the project funds while lining the pockets of elected officials with the rest.
During the Senate hearing, Napoles denied the accusations and repeatedly invoked her right against self-discrimination.
De Lima, however, was cautious about Escudero’s proposal to move Napoles to a regular jail from her detention inside Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
“The government should ask the DOJ to put her in an ordinary jail. We should not spend for her security since she’s going to deny [the accusations] anyway,” Escudero had said in a television interview.
De Lima said there were security concerns that needed to be addressed. Napoles’ suspected cohorts in the plunder include senators, congressmen, their staff and former government officials.
De Lima said she would take up the transfer issue with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas who has jurisdiction over the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Napoles’ current custodians, and ultimately with President Aquino.
Escudero’s proposal was echoed yesterday by some members of the House of Representatives, who urged the government to “stop giving (Napoles) VIP treatment.”
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., a lawyer, said Napoles let the public down when she not only clammed up when she was questioned by the senators but also continued to deny the charges made by her former employees.
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