Napoles might be used in witch-hunt vs opposition, solon warns

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Janet Lim Napoles smiles as she arrives at the Sandiganbayan for a hearing May 10, 2017. PHIL. STAR PHOTO BY MICHAEL VARCAS

MANILA – If she were allowed to turn state witness, pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles could be used by the administration to target its political opponents, an opposition lawmaker warned on Monday.

“Making Napoles a state witness gives her the opportunity to spin facts in her favor and likely against opponents of the administration,” Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat said.

“Given how deep she appears to be involved in these scams, she would say anything the administration wants to get her out of her predicament,” he added.

Baguilat was not in favor of the plan of the administration to consider Napoles as state witness in the pork barrel investigation, saying she was the “mastermind” of the scam.

According to the lawmaker, the Rules of Court states that to discharge an accused as state witness, she must not be the most guilty, and there must be no other direct evidence of the offense except the testimony of the proposed state witness, among other requirements.

“Ms. Napoles does not appear to be not the most guilty, as she seems to be the author, instigator and mastermind of the scams,” he said.

“For instance, one does not form bogus organizations by accident; it can only be done with express complicity and active involvement, contradicting any indication of being not the most guilty,” he added.

Baguilat observed that whenever the administration relies on the testimonies of known criminals or people strongly suspected of doing crimes, a witch-hunt against an opponent of the government is not far behind.

“We saw from the inquisition of Senator Leila de Lima that our Department of Justice would swallow hook, line and sinker the uncorroborated and even illogical testimonies of convicted criminals just to support its witch hunt.

Napoles is only a few degrees improved as compared with the DOJ’s drug witnesses as she has not yet been convicted of an offense, a fact which this very same administration made certain by advocating her acquittal of detention charges,” he said.

Baguilat also expressed alarm over the government’s growing reliance on the testimonies of criminal suspects to get a prosecution.

“Birds of the same feather flock together, goes the saying, so it’s disturbing that our justice administrators are going to bed more frequently with known or suspected criminals. If it’s not an indication of a witch hunt, then it’s a sign of laziness and ineptitude; either way, it’s a betrayal of justice and a crime against the Filipino people,” he said.