Ombudsman to block move to use Napoles as state witness

MANILA-- Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Tuesday said her office will block any move to use detained businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles as a state witness in the planned re-investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the pork barrel scam.

Napoles is the alleged "brains" behind the PHP10-billion pork barrel and the PHP900-million Malampaya Fund scams.

"As far as the prosecution is concerned, she (Napoles) is one of the principal alleged malefactors. So certainly the Office of the (Special) Prosecutor will block any attempt to make her a state witness," Morales said in an ambush interview with reporters.

The Ombudsman said that it is the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) who will determine if Napoles can be made a state witness, but with the approval of the anti-graft court.

"It is the OSP which will consider whether or not she (Napoles) will be a state witness. And it's going to be the court who will finally approve whether or not she is going to be a state witness," Morales said.

The Ombudsman said that even if the DOJ conducts its own investigation, her office is not bound by its findings.

"It's up to them (DOJ) if they wish to re-investigate. We are not bound by any findings over cases over which the Ombudsman has the final authority whether or not there is probable cause," she said.

Last week, DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II met with Napoles' camp where the businesswoman expressed willingness to name more officials involved in the pork barrel scam.

However, Morales on Tuesday said that she is not bothered by these "exploratory talks" between the DOJ and Napoles' camp.

"I'm not bothered at all. We are confident with our position. So whatever they say, let them say it. We are not bothered. We are not concerned at all by whatever they say," she said.

Napoles is now detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) detention facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City.

Source: Philippines News Agency