Napoles as state witness? Not so fast, says law dean
Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles is not qualified to be a state witness in the multibillion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) anomaly that she herself was accused of orchestrating, a law dean said on Tuesday.
San Beda Graduate School of Law Dean Fr. Ranhilio Aquino expressed doubt that Napoles was not the “most guilty” in the pork barrel fund mess, one of the requirements for one to be declared a state witness.
“The requirements for being a state witness are number one, her testimony is indispensable and she really needs to testify. Second, that she does not appear to be the most guilty. In respect to the first requirement, I am wondering why they are considering turning her into state witness when the Office of the Ombudsman itself said they have strong evidence when they first filed the case,” Aquino said over church-run Radyo Veritas.
“If the evidence is indeed strong to put to jail three senators, why is the government now saying that they need a state witness? If they will say that, they are admitting that they don’t have enough evidence on hand,” he said, referring to the pork barrel cases of Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jinggoy Estrada.
It was Napoles who put up foundations where pork barrel funds of certain senators and congressmen were funneled in exchange for pocketing up to 50 percent of the funds. She was earlier acquitted for the for the illegal detention of pork barrel scam whistle-blower Benhur Luy but remains to be detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig for other criminal charges.
“As regards to the second requirement, that she does not appear to be the most guilty, I also have my problem with that because number one, you could characterize Mrs. Napoles as a principal by inducement. She may not been the receiver of the bribes, she may not be the receiver of the money but she certainly induced them because she also profited from it. So if she is that high in the order of culpability, how can you say that she does not appear to be the most guilty?” Aquino added.
Solicitor General Jose Calida and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II previously said that Napoles camp is in talks with the government to discuss the possibility of turning the businesswoman into a state witness amid a planned reinvestigation of the pork barrel scam./ac/rga
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