Published May 9, 2017 5:21pm
Senator Leila de Lima accused the administration of entering a deal with alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles as part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to “blackmail and threaten” his political foes.
De Lima issued the statement after the Court of Appeals (CA) acquitted Napoles in the serious illegal detention case filed against her by her former aide, Benhur Luy.
“In his desire for the absolute acquiescence of all politicians, it is not remote that Duterte will use Napoles to blackmail and threaten any remaining opposition in Congress,” De Lima said Tuesday.
GMA News Online is still getting Malacañang’s reaction as of posting time, but it previously said that the acquittal would not have any bearing on other cases pending against Napoles.
Napoles' appeal received a boost from the manifestation of Solicitor-General Jose Calida, who filed a manifestation before the CA stating that the evidence presented by the prosecution did not support the conviction beyond reasonable doubt of Napoles for serious illegal detention.
The government's top lawyer, however, said that Napoles' illegal detention case is "totally different and independent from other" cases pending against her in relation to the multi-billion pork barrel scam, or the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of several lawmakers.
Napoles will remain in detention over pending plunder and graft charges before the Sandiganbayan in relation to the pork barrel scam.
De Lima, who is presently detained over drug-related charges, said she was informed of news reports that Napoles may be used against her over her supposed “selective prosecution” of legislators alleged to have benefited from the misuse of priority development assistance funds (PDAF).
She was the secretary of Justice when Napoles and several members of Congress were charged with plunder in connection with the PDAF scam.
De Lima also hit proposals to turn Napoles into a state witness, with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and Napoles lawyer Stephen David broaching the idea.
“Let me be clear about this. No.1, Napoles was not made a State witness in the PDAF Scam cases because she was the most guilty,” De Lima said.
“No.2, when we asked her to identify legislators, she asked us instead who among the Senators and Congressmen we wanted included in her PDAF list of clients. That is when I knew that Napoles cannot be relied upon and is only too willing to fabricate her own testimony to save her skin at the expense of innocent Senators and Congressmen,” she added.
'Don't be bullied'
De Lima also called on the judiciary not to allow itself to be “bullied” by Duterte.
“The day an independent judiciary ceases to act using only the scale of justice and instead allows itself to be dictated upon by the executive is the day we official become a dictatorship,” De Lima said.
“They are expected to give justice, especially when there is so much injustice around us. They are not prostitutes to be disrobed inside the bedrooms of Malacañang,” she added —NB/JST, GMA News