Malacañang on Saturday sought to distance itself from the controversial decision of the Department of Justice to place alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles under the government’s Witness Protection Program.
In a radio interview, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said they would leave the decision to the DoJ and let the justice department do its mandated job.
“The President is not interfering in everything that is happening in all departments of government. Otherwise, the President will have no time to serve the country,” Roque said.
The presidential spokesman reiterated that Napoles, tagged as queen of pork scam, was not yet formally placed under the Witness Protection Program but merely under the protective custody.
“And just to make it clear, she is not yet formally placed under witness protection. A protective custody means prosecutors are studying whether she should be placed under WPP,” Roque said.
He said the Palace was letting the DoJ do its job as long as it followed proper procedure.Napoles, currently detained in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City, filed a motion before the Sandiganbayan which asked it to transfer her to the custody of the DoJ.
However, Roque said the affidavits Napoles submitted would be studied, and explained she was not yet formally admitted to the witness protection.
Napoles is currently facing multiple charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with her involvement in the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam.
The Malacañang reaction followed an accusation by lawyer Levi Baligod on Friday against the DoJ and the Office of the Solicitor General of “giving undue favor” to Napoles.
Napoles, the alleged brains behind the multibillion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund scam, was placed by DoJ under the provisional coverage of the government’s Witness Protection Program.
“I see in the actions of DoJ some venal acts. This is not isolated, this is connected to what the Solicitor General did,” Baligod said in a Bandila DZMM interview.
The OSG filed with the Court of Appeals a “manifestation in lieu of rejoinder” that recommended the acquittal of the businesswoman for the crime of serious illegal detention against whistleblower Benhur Luy.
In May 2017, the CA reversed a lower court ruling that found Napoles guilty.
Baligod, Luy’s former legal counsel, said he would file graft charges against the DoJ and OSG for “giving undue favor” to Napoles, adding there was no such thing as provisional admission into the WPP.
At the same time, Baligod doubted Napoles would become a state witness.
He said Napoles would not qualify under Republic Act 6981 or Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act.
Under Section 3 of RA 6981, “Any person who has witnessed or has knowledge or information on the commission of a crime and has testified or is testifying or about to testify before any judicial or quasi-judicial body, or before any investigating authority, may be admitted into the Program.”
He said Napoles was not in any physical danger.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.