Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 24 March 2018


Reader, one side says that Janet Lim Napoles should be a state witness under the Witness Protection Program because she is the least guilty and this side is just seeking justice.

The other side says that Napoles cannot be a state witness because she is clearly the most guilty and that she is being used for political persecution.

The Office of the Ombudsman has filed 97 graft cases against Napoles. The Department of Justice, as well as the Solicitor General, thinks she has very little guilt.

Malacañang says President Duterte is not involved. Others think he is calling the shots.

Who do you believe? Before you answer, let’s look at the facts, shall we? Then we can use logic to help us come to our conclusions. Let’s not just say, Basta, mas naniniwala ako kay Presidente, or Naniniwala ako kay Leila de Lima. Ok? Well, what are the facts?

Fact 1: Napoles’ lawyers, Stephen David and his wife, Lanee Cui David (appointed in July 2016 as deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue), and Bruce Rivera, are Duterte supporters. The Davids have been lawyering for Napoles since 2014. All three are from San Beda College.

Fact 2: Leila de Lima, then justice secretary, ordered the investigation of Napoles in response to a letter from Levi Baligod, Benhur Luy’s lawyer, about the latter’s illegal detention by Napoles. The case blew up to plunder and graft when Luy and other employees of Napoles executed affidavits implicating her in a multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.

Fact 3: Regional Trial Court Judge Elmo Alameda, in 2015, found Napoles guilty of serious illegal detention and sentenced her to reclusion perpetua. The decision was appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA).

Fact 4: From 2014 through the first half of 2016, Napoles and her lawyers couldn’t get anywhere with the justice system. Example: The last was a Supreme Court decision (penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen) in July 2016, finding against Napoles’ petition for certiorari, and ruling that she “failed to show capriciousness, whimsicality, arbitrariness, or any despotic exercise of judgment by reason of passion and hostility on the part of respondents” (among whom were De Lima and Judge Alameda). Essentially, the court found that Luy had indeed been illegally detained, beyond reasonable doubt.

This state of affairs has changed with the Duterte administration, as seen from the following:

Fact 5: On Aug. 21, 2016, President Duterte, in a press conference in Davao City, said Napoles’ list of lawmakers involved in the pork barrel scam “deserves a second look.” “Duterte linked former Justice Secretary and at the time Senator Leila de Lima to Napoles and the scam.”

Fact 6:  On Jan. 11, 2017, the Solicitor General recommended to the CA Napoles’ acquittal in the serious illegal detention case. Note, Reader, that this was in the face of the Supreme Court’s July 2016 decision. I cannot resist adding that SolGen Jose Calida has said that his office is the 16th member of the 15-member Supreme Court. That is a fact.

Fact 7: On Feb. 27, 2017, Mr. Duterte said he supports Calida’s move to acquit Napoles in the serious illegal detention case.

Fact 8:  On March 6, Napoles accused De Lima of extortion when De Lima was justice secretary, over the serious illegal detention case. Note that in the Supreme Court case against De Lima, no mention is made of this accusation.

Fact 9: On May 5, the CA acquitted Napoles in the serious illegal detention case (again, despite the Supreme Court’s July 2016 ruling), saying that her guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Fact 10: On May 10, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre announced that the Department of Justice will reopen the probe into the pork barrel scam, and the possibility of Napoles becoming a state witness.

Fact 11: On May 11, Napoles lawyer David met with Aguirre for “exploratory talks” on the pork barrel cases.

Fact 12: On May 16, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said Napoles will NOT become a state witness in the pork barrel cases. It is the Ombudsman, Reader, that determines who becomes state witness. That, however, is little comfort, because she retires in July 2018.

Fact 13: On May 29, Napoles implicated opposition senators Frank Drilon, Leila de Lima, and Antonio Trillanes in the pork barrel scam.

Those are the facts, Reader. Now use your logic, and answer the questions.