Detained businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles is readying to file a case against three opposition senators in connection with the multibillion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) anomaly, according to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
In an interview with ABS-CBN’s “Umagang Kay Ganda,” Aguirre disclosed that Napoles’ lawyer Stephen David told him that her camp would soon file a complaint before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against “prominent personalities” who allegedly benefitted from the so-called pork barrel scam.
Among the senators Napoles implicated in the scam were Antonio Trillanes IV and Leila de Lima, and Franklin Drilon. Former budget secretary Butch Abad was also included.
“Ang mga nabanggit niya ay prominent personalities sa nakaraang administrasyon—sina Abad, parang kasama rin si Senator Trillanes, Senator De Lima, at Senate [Minority Leader] Drilon (Napoles mentioned prominent personalities from the previous administration—former budget Abad, and also Senator Trillanes, Senator De Lima, and [former] Senate President Drilon),” Aguirre said.
Trillanes and De Lima were notably among Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s staunchest critics while Drilon is currently the minority president.
During the previous administration of former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, both Abad and De Lima headed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and DOJ respectively.
“Yun pong kay Janet Napoles ay nakausap ko na po, actually ‘yung kanyang lawyer, at sabi niya in a few days magsasampa sila ng kaukulang habla at ifa-file ata nila ‘yun sa DOJ (I talked with Napoles’ lawyer, and he said that they will file a complaint before the DOJ in a few days),” Aguirre said.
Aguirre also denied accusations that the Duterte is taking “revenge” against his critics through the case.
“Ang tingin ko po diyan ay pagpapatupad ng katarungan, sapagkat kapag ikaw po ay nagkasala at alam naman natin na kung ikaw ay namuno sa napakalaking pag-rape sa ating kabang-bayan, wala pong, walang dapat ipaghiganti ang ating Pangulo (I see this as an implementation of justice because if you committed a crime and you plundered our nation’s coffers, there is no need for the President to seek revenge),” he said.
In a what seemed to be a turn of events, Napoles, who has been accused as the mastermind of the scam, is being eyed as a state witness in the DOJ’s planned reinvestigation.
For their part, the three accused senators denied claims of their involvement in the scam.
In a statement, Drilon tagged the allegations against him as an “outright black propaganda” and political harassment intended to silence the members of the opposition.”
“The intention is obvious from the personalities being linked. If this is not revenge, I don’t know what it is,” Drilon said, stressing any claims of him misusing public funds is “a blatant lie.”
Trillanes, meanwhile, accused Aguirre “using his office to persecute and harass members of the opposition by fabricating testimonies from dubious convicts or detainees.”
“I categorically deny any involvement in any irregularity regarding PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund), DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program), or any government funds, for that matter. I was never even mentioned in any of the so-called Napoles lists provided during the height of the investigations in 2013,” Trillanes said.
De Lima, for her part remarked that “only fools will believe” Aguirre and Napoles.
“The woman who stole billions in the PDAF Scam is now being glorified to turn state witness against targeted opposition personalities,” she added.
De Lima further said, “Expect a complaint substantiated with nothing but Napoles’s worthless words, and Aguirre’s reputation for fake accusations. Justice in the Philippines now is a joke, the biggest joke since Aguirre was appointed Secretary of Justice. Unfortunately, it’s a joke that imprisons and punishes the innocent and rewards criminals.”
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