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Anti-corruption commissioner says Napoles was pork scam beneficiary, not the mastermind

Only politicians could have orchestrated the pork barrel scam being attributed to detained businesswoman Janet Napoles, an official of President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-corruption body said Tuesday.

"Janet is a willing beneficiary of corruption, but not the mastermind," Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) commissioner Greco Belgica said at a news conference.

Asked to clarify his statement, Belgica told GMA News Online that Napoles knew it was corruption “but she did it anyway because of her bosses. The politician says so.”

He said Napoles took part in the racket so she could “get her share.”

“That is my personal opinion as the lead petitioner against the pork barrel system [that had been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013], not as PACC member,” Belgica said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Belgica’s statement on Napoles was his personal opinion.

“While the statement of Commissioner Belgica on Ms. Janet Lim-Napoles during his press conference is his personal opinion, we would wait for the assessment of the Department of Justice on Ms. Napoles’ application for the full coverage of the witness protection program,” Roque said in a statement.

Napoles is facing a string of plunder and graft cases before the Sandiganbayan over allegations that her non-government organizations received millions of pesos from the PDAF entitlements of several lawmakers in exchange for ghost projects.

She is also accused of giving millions of pesos in kickbacks to the legislators with whom she conspired.

Napoles recently secured temporary witness protection status under the Department of Justice, triggering a wave of criticism from several quarters, including lawmakers, who said she was not worthy of government protection at all because of her deep involvement in the scam.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II defended his department’s move, telling a news conference in Malacañang last week that "justice will be done" if Napoles "will be allowed to speak and tell the whole truth" about the scam. —NB, GMA News