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Another punch-the-wall moment

RUMOR has it that President Rodrigo Duterte slammed his fist against the wall after learning that his Department of Justice dropped charges of narcotics trade against Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Lim and a handful of others. 

We hesitate to receive this information literally. Suffice it to say that the President was supposedly enraged that the cases against these known or self-confessed drug traders have been dropped for their “weakness.” 

It appears the DoJ is not done. On Friday it announced that it had placed alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, provisionally, under the Witness Protection Program. 

Napoles created a stir in 2013 after her former assistant revealed she set up numerous bogus foundations and non-government organizations through which lawmakers funneled their Priority Development Assistance Fund.

The circumstances of Mrs. Napoles’ surfacing and surrender were surreal, leading many to believe that politicians across party lines were afraid of her spilling something she knew about them. People were also scandalized that prior to her arrest, she and her family lived not only comfortably but ostentatiously. 

We wonder, however, what the state would get out of Napoles now, when she only replied “I don’t know” and “I don’t remember” to questions asked of her during congressional hearings. She will also be best remembered for her rambling speech during an earlier meeting with journalists. 

But her lawyers say she has submitted a new affidavit. It promises to be explosive—why else would she be placed under the program, but then again, what guarantee does the public have that this version is truer and more forthcoming than her previous disclosures? 

Napoles’ lawyers said last year that she had been receiving death threats from former and current officials who benefitted from her elaborate scheme. 

It is yet to be established whether Napoles was the mastermind or a mere participant, even a conduit, in the broad scheme intended to take public funds in the guise of helping organizations of worthy causes. What is certain now is that Napoles, over the years, has come to be equated with corruption and deliberate intent to fool the people. Turning her into a state witness simply grates. Just like the DoJ’s decision to drop the drug charges against Espinosa, Lim and the rest, the thought of Napoles as a crusading witness just leaves us a bad taste in the mouth. 

We wonder whether the President would punch the wall again, literally or otherwise, when he realizes the impact this latest DoJ stunt will have on his supposed fight against corruption.

Topics: Janet Lim-Napoles , President Rodrigo Duterte , Witness Protection Program , Kerwin Espinosa , Department of Justice , Peter Lim
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