Cartoon by Roni Santiago
Cartoon by Roni Santiago

The Philippine Department of Justice (DoJ) is considering the possibility of making Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, a state witness. This came after Napoles executed an affidavit disclosing “a lot of details” about the scam.

 In a press conference held last April 21, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed reports that she had met with suspected “pork barrel” scam mastermind at the Ospital ng Makati (not Ospital ng Manila as earlier reported) before Napoles underwent surgery for myoma.

“There are more details, more information from Mrs. Napoles. But not everything. Mrs. Napoles appears to know these things. But I cannot share with you the details,” De Lima said.

She said Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada are mentioned in the affidavit of Napoles.

De Lima said that some of the names Napoles disclosed in her affidavit are already respondents in the case DoJ filed with the Office of the Ombudsman which, in turn, later filed the case with the Sandiganbayan.

In a related development, DoJ is also considering suggestions to convince Atty. Gigi Gonzales Reyes, former chief of staff of Enrile, to become a state witness. Reyes returned recently to Manila from the United States.

If we were to choose a state witness between Reyes and Napoles, we would prefer Reyes because we believe she was just following the instructions of Enrile.

On the other hand, we believe Napoles is the most guilty among the people linked to the scam. This is evident in the statements of two of her former employees who said that she had set up the bogus non-profit organizations (NGOs) through which millions of the pork barrel funds were siphoned off. According to the witnesses, bulks of the funds found their way to the pockets of the lawmakers implicated in the massive fraud.

 At this time, however, we do not know yet the details disclosed by Napoles in her affidavit. We suspect, though, that she pointed to somebody as the scam brains. This would mean she is not the most guilty, and this could qualify her to become a state witness.

From our standpoint, we see Napoles as not a credible witness. We believe she had been lying through her teeth since she was arrested. When she testified before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, she either lied or evaded answering key questions.

She claimed that threats against her life prompted her to bare all she knows about the mess. We cannot buy this because we don’t know if she is lying again. If you lie once, you lie all the time.

Reyes is a more credible state witness because, if the witnesses’ testimonies are true, she played a key role in the scam in her capacity as Enrile’s aide.