By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang welcomed the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to remove Janet Lim-Napoles from the provisional coverage of the Witness Protection Program (WPP).
DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday terminated the supposed pork barrel scam mastermind’s provision to its WPP, saying there was no reason to extend further Napoles’ provisional coverage under the program.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a statement, also agreed that Napoles is not the least guilty in the said issue.
“We support [the] DOJ Secretary’s decision and agree that Lim (Napoles) is not [the] least guilty whose testimony is not indispensable and can be testified upon by other witnesses,” he said.
On February 27 this year, the DOJ, under former secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, granted Napoles security protection for 90 days due to alleged threats to her security.
Napoles also specifically requested protection by way of transfer from her place of detention in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City to a secure housing facility with limited access to the public.
According to Aguirre, Napoles has executed an affidavit which provided more details on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam last 2013 which led to her life imprisonment sentence.
“Considering the denial of Ms. Napoles’ Urgent Motion for Transfer of Custody to the DOJ WPSBP by the First, Third, and Fifth Divisions of the Sandiganbayan, the main purpose for which Ms. Napoles had sought admission to into the WPSBP has become moot and academic,” the DOJ press statement read.
“As there has been no further claim of threats to her personal security inside Camp Bagong Diwa, the Secretary of Justice has found no reason to extend further Ms. Napoles’ provisional coverage under the Witness Protection Program,” it furthered.
The DOJ has been criticized after Aguirre announced that Napoles has been placed the provisional coverage of the WPP. Malacañang, on the other hand, said that President Duterte had no role in the act of the DOJ.
“Hindi naman po sa lahat ng bagay ay nanghihimasok ang Presidente. Sa ngayon po, nirerespeto namin ang magiging desisyon ng DOJ dahil katungkulan naman po nila yan, sang-ayon po yan sa batas na bumuo ng (Not at all times should the President interfere in affairs. For now, we respect the decision of the DOJ because it is their duty to form a) Witness Protection Program,” Roque said in March, 2018.
Last year, Aguirre has created a new task force to reinvestigate the PDAF scandal after meeting one of Napoles’ counsel. He said Napoles implicated at least three more senators and two former executive officials in the pork barrel scam.
The reinvestigation came after the Court of Appeals acquitted Napoles in the illegal detention case filed by PDAF scandal whistleblower Benhur Luy before the Makati regional trial court.
Malacañan lat year refused to comment on whether Napoles should be a state witness on the reinvestigation of the PDAF scam.
Duterte also begged off to comment on the matter, saying he may be held liable for contempt but agreed that in order to be a state witness, Napoles should be the least guilty.
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