Senator Leila de Lima dared detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles on Thursday to return the wealth she has allegedly acquired illegally from her “shady deals” with lawmakers linked to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork bark scam.
De Lima, who is detained on drug charges, issued the challenge as Napoles camp was reportedly in talks with the government about the possibility of turning her into a state witness if the pork barrel scam probe would be re-opened.
“Mr. Aguirre is making a tempting offer for Napoles that is too hard to resist, that is to tell everything she knows against the expanded list of suspects in the pork barrel fund scam in exchange of her security, survival or political concessions,” the senator said, referring to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
“If this government really sees her as a credible state witness because it thinks she is a ‘minimal player’ in the multi-billion pork barrel fund scandal, I challenge Napoles to return the wealth she has acquired from all her illegal transactions,” she added.
De Lima was the justice secretary when the pork barrel scam was investigated and charges were filed against Napoles and other personalities, including former three senators– Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose ” Jinggoy” Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
Like De Lima, Estrada and Revilla have been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center while Enrile was allowed by the court to post bail.
De Lima stood pat on her decision not to allow Napoles to become a state witness, saying the latter appeared, “as she still appears now” as the most guilty in the pork barrel fund anomaly.
“When we asked her to identify legislators, she asked us instead who among the senators and congressmen we wanted included in her PDAF list of clients. That is when I knew that Napoles cannot be relied upon and is only too willing to fabricate her own testimony to save her skin at the expense of innocent senators and congressmen,” she said.
The detained senator also maintained that the Duterte administration might only use Napoles “to get even with its critics and opponents.”
“This government is using Napoles to blackmail and bully its critics and opponents. It will stop at nothing unless it can silence its dissenters and have their merry way of plunging our country into disaster,” De Lima said. CBB/rga