THE lawyer of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles confirmed Friday that his client’s family had furnished former senator Panfilo Lacson a list of names of government officials involved in the scheme to cheat the government out of billions of pesos.
Lacson said he received a list of names in late March from Napoles’ husband and their children, but said the list was incomplete.
Bruce Rivera, Napoles’ lawyer, however, said the list that Napoles gave to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima during a five-hour meeting at the Ospital ng Makati this week was the complete version.
“According to the family, they did give a list of names to Senator Lacson, but at the time, the list was not complete,” Rivera told radio dzMM. “The complete list is the one that was given to the Justice Department.”
Lacson, an ally of President Benigno Aquino III, had warned De Lima not to sanitize the list given her by Napoles.
The list reportedly contains additional names of senators, congressmen, and other government officials, including allies of the President, involved in the scam.
After the five-hour talk, De Lima said Napoles, accompanied by Rivera, told her she wanted to become a state witness in scam, in which she was tagged as mastermind.
But De Lima told Napoles there is no assurance she would become a state witness, saying the Office of the Ombudsman will be the one to decide on her plea.
Rivera has repeatedly denied that Napoles was the mastermind in the scam.
He said his client is also not pushing to become a state witness.
“She is willing to tell the truth even without the guarantee of being admitted as a state witness,” Rivera said.
Napoles was charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman, along with opposition Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr., and about 30 others, for allegedly diverting billions of pesos from their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations to bogus projects in exchange for kickbacks.
Lacson on Friday said lawmakers who are becoming paranoid that their names are on Napoles’ list need only examine their conscience, saying that they themselves are the best judge of their guilt or innocence.
Lacson also turned the tables on Senator Miriam Santiago, saying it was insane for anyone to accuse him of trying to mislead the public on the pork barrel scam.
Santiago earlier said that Lacson was acting as the “attack dog” of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and that he was part of a “trinity of unholy conspirators” bent on sowing misinformation on the issue.
“It is not sane to think that I will protect and cover up for Senator Enrile. I have consistently advocated to abolish the pork barrel system as I believe it is the most hypocritical source of corruption among legislators,” Lacson said.
“(And) all those who wonder if they were guilty of abusing their pork barrel funds must only ask themselves to get the most accurate answer to their question,” he added.
Lacson also rejected calls for him to disclose to the public the list that he got from Napoles’ husband Jimmy.
“The best person to name names is the one who prepared that list. Mrs. Napoles is available and accessible. She is also in the best position to substantiate with evidence the involvement of those in the list,” he said.
Lacson said the list he has contained the names of enough senators and congressmen to constitute a quorum.
Lacson said Napoles’ husband Jimmy, a former soldier, sought his help in the hopes of gaining immunity for his wife in exchange for her testimony.
Lacson said he told him, however, that the decision to accept Napoles as a state witness would be up to the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan.
On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano renewed his call to De Lima to immediately make public Napoles’ sworn statement.
He also asked De Lima to also verify if people on the list were in fact guilty and were clients of Napoles, or if their names were simply being dragged into the controversy.
“This is what I have been saying the other day that while the affidavit of Napoles has not yet been made public, many lists will be coming out and there will be confusion in the issue. This will eventuallbenefit the guilty. This is happening now,” said Cayetano.
Cayetano said not a single centavo from his PDAF went to Napoles or her fake non-government organizations (NGOs).
“Everything went directly to the people. In fact, as early as August of last year, I wrote the COA [Commission on Audi] to audit the books of my office and I am confident that they will find no irregularity,” he said.
“I am not afraid to face the Filipino people because what came out in the Tribune is not true,” said Cayetano, referring to a published story that named administration allies as being guilty in the pork barrel scam.
He said before the issues get muddled, the Filipino people should hear Napoles at the Senate, where she can speak and be cross examined.
“Let us also be wary of black ops and character assassination attempts against the whistleblowers. Evidence is damning, so all that is left is for the guilty to muddle the issue and hope for an ally in the Palace in 2016,” he said.
Citing the spirit of transparency and accountability, Cayetano had earlier called on Lacson and De Lima to reveal to the public the names mentioned by Napoles.
“By naming names the investigation could proceed and be completed, those mentioned can defend themselves and the institutions (Senate and House of Representatives) could take measures to preserve their integrity by disciplining their members,” he added.
Senator Sergio Osmena III, vice chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee, on Friday joined those calling on Lacson and De Lima to divulge the names on the Napoles list, saying if it is not made public, everybody in the Senate and in the House would be under suspicion.
“I think that’s brutally unfair. We would like them to come out with the list as soon as possible,” said Osmena.
He brushed aside suggestions that De Lima would sanitize the list.
“We trust in the integrity of Secretary De Lima and we know she would not allow any sanitizing of the list,” he said.
Senators Grace Poe, JV Ejercito, Antonio Trillanes IV, Francis Escudero, and Senate Franklin Drilon have also challenged Lacson to name names so that those mentioned in the list can defend themselves.
De Lima on Friday again rejected calls to release the list of names before they were investigated, saying this could cause mayhem.
“I cannot do that at this time. I don’t think I can be pressured to do that,” De Lima said.
De Lima said the Justice Department was being very careful so as not to unfairly drag the names of personalities into the fund anomaly.
“There will be mayhem if we release the list without validating the information. What if we name names and find out later on that there’s no evidence at all (to prove the allegations),” she said.
This was why the National Bureau of Investigation was working double time to validate the information in Napoles’ sworn statement, she added.
De Lima also questioned the authenticity of other lists being reported in the media, which came from other sources.
“There’s only one list--our list which came from Mrs. Napoles. Now as to the other lists, where did those come from?” De Lima said.
She called on these sources “to please stop meddling.”
De Lima questioned the role of whistle-blower Sandra Cam, who claimed to also have a copy of the Napoles list.
“What personality does she have? Is she an investigator? Is she with the Ombudsman? She’s president of the whistle-blowers association, but is she a whistle-blower in the pork barrel scam? She’s just muddling the whole thing,” De Lima said, visibly irritated.