MANILA-- Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles can be a witness of the government on new cases to be filed but not on the pending cases before the Sandiganbayan.
This was bared by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Wednesday.
I am not referring to those cases. (The cases already pending before the Sandiganbayan) will not be affected if she will become a state witness, Aguirre said.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales earlier said she will block Napoles from being a state witness.
Aguirre said the Ombudsman can oppose a move to make Napoles a government witness only on pending cases.
He maintained that it is up to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to determine who can or cannot be admitted to the Witness Protection Program (WPP).
But since the DOJ has the exclusive right to put a witness under the Witness Protection Program, we will exercise it if need be, Aguirre noted.
Aguirre said that Napoles will remain in detention even if she becomes a state witness on the reinvestigation on the planned review of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) cases.
Aguirre said this will not affect her pending plunder cases, which are non-bailable, before before the Sandiganbayan.
Asked if Napoles could qualify as state witness in the possible cases that could emanate from the reinvestigation, Aguirre stressed that it would depend on what she has to say.
The DOJ Secretary believes that Napoles could be a credible government witness if she would be able to substantiate her testimonies with evidence.
Depende sa sasabihin niyan (It depends on what she says). If coupled with documents then there is no reason why she should not be credible, he pointed out.
The DOJ chief said that while several camps are pushing for Napoles to be state witness, she would have to meet the qualifications set by law - that she should not be the most guilty of the crime and that her testimony must be indispensable for the cases to stand.
He said he could only make an assessment of her eligibility once he reads her sworn statement.
As far I know wala pang gingawa affidavit ang amin lang po dito function sa DOJ tatanggapin lang naming kung may bagong complaint siya imbestigahan under Preliminary investigation, he noted.
Aguirre further pointed out that in cases of plunder or corruption involving a government official and a private individual, the former is considered the most guilty as per the ruling of the Supreme Court (SC).
"Based on a Supreme Court decision, it will be the government official who will be considered as the most guilty, because he is taking advantage of his public position," he explained.
Earlier, the Court of Appeals reversed a Makati City court decision which convicted Napoles and her brother Jojo Lim for serious illegal detention.
Source: Philippines News Agency