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No deal with Janet Lim-Napoles, Malacañang spokesman says

August 29, 2013 10:17am

(Updated 3:58 p.m.) The government did not strike a deal with Janet Lim-Napoles, the trader at the center of a P10-billion "pork barrel" scam who surrendered to President Benigno Aquino III Wednesday night, a Malacañang spokesperson said Thursday.

At a press conference, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the only request from the camp of Napoles was for "ample security protection."

"There’s only that (request) to secure her safety," he said.

"According to their camp, there were serious threats on her life. In the words of Atty. (Lorna) Kapunan, there are those who intend to silence her [Napoles] permanently. The only person that they can trust is our President," he added.

Lacierda, however, said there was "no elaboration on the nature of the threats," although Kapunan supposedly claimed the Napoles family "has some issues” with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which spearheaded the manhunt on Napoles following the issuance of an arrest warrant against her and her brother, Reynald Lim.

"Wala siyang sinabi kung saan ang banta. Pero given the situation where she was—has been identified as a key to all this controversy, I think any fair-minded, level-headed individual can draw some conclusions," Lacierda said.

He added that they did not talk about the pork barrel issue or the possibility of her becoming a state witness during her surrender.

"Wala kaming mahalagang pinag-usapan. Nagpapasalamat po siya dahil lang sa… tungkol sa kanyang safety, na-arrange po ang kanyang safety," Lacierda said.

"Maraming tanong ho kahapon on kung gagawing state witness. Wala hong pinag-usapang ganoon sa meeting po," he added.

No special treatment

Lacierda said Kapunan has assured them that they will "cooperate in the investigation."

"Kung ano yung tinatago niya (Napoles), hindi po natin alam until she testifies and gives her side," he added.

Despite this, Lacierda said "there's no special treatment" for the embattled trader, whose surrender came on the same day Aquino offered a P10-million reward to any information that could lead to her arrest.

"Tuloy po yung mga kaso. Kung ano pong kasong sasampahan po, haharapin po ng kampo nila Ginang Napoles," Lacierda said, adding it is up to courts as to where Napoles will be detained.

"That will depend on the discretion of the court. Remember, ini-return yung warrant ngayong umaga so it is now within the court’s prerogative to say where she will be detained," he said.

Surrender

At a press briefing Wednesday night, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said Kapunan sent the surrender feeler through Lacierda, a former colleague of hers in a law firm.

Lacierda confirmed this on Thursday, saying he had worked for Kapunan's firm Roco Buñag Kapunan & Migallos upon graduating from law school but only stayed there for three years.

"So matagal na yun. So after that I moved to another law firm," he said, adding that when he worked there Kapunan was already a boss.  

"So, hindi ho kami ganoon ka-close. Nagtrabaho ako sa kanya. I’m just an ordinary associate of the law firm.  Langgam lang po ako doon sa law firm, amo na siya noon," he said.

Aquino accompanied Roxas and Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima in bringing Napoles to Camp Crame.

Asked why the President would personally bring a fugitive to Camp Crame, Lacierda said: "The President views this matter very seriously and we wanted [to] make sure that she is turned over to the courts. Kaya yun po ang ginawa ng ating Pangulo."

The Palace official also said that this is not the first time a fugitive surrendered to the President.

"The President is an honorable man. It’s in our culture that the fugitive who throws himself at the mercy of the highest official, the President is honor-bound to secure and receive the fugitive," he said.

Palace script?

Militant groups like Kabataan party-list have said that the surrender "may be part of a well-written Palace script to defuse the growing public outrage over the President’s defense and non-abolition of the pork barrel, especial his own pork."

Anakbayan, for its part, called it a "poorly-written, telenovela-inspired script” meant to distract the public from the pork barrel funds issue.

Lacierda, however, said Akbayan can't seem to decide what it wants.

"Noong Lunes, sabi ng Anakbayan: ‘Hulihin si Napoles!’ ‘Nung nag-surrender na si Napoles: ‘Scripted ang huli.’ I mean, make up your mind, Anakbayan, and be a little bit smarter than what you have stated," he said.

Lacierda also said they can never do anything right in the eyes of militant groups.

"[When] we don’t do something, we’re damned by some sectors. [When] we do something to protect and to ensure that now the truth can move forward, we’re still damned," he said.

"But we will still do the right thing. The President has chosen to do the right thing in this case to ensure that the truth now can move forward," he added.

With Napoles in government custody, Lacierda said the P10 million will not go to anybody.

Napoles is wanted on charges of serious illegal detention arising from the alleged kidnapping of pork-barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy last year. — RSJ/KBK, GMA News




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