Napoles to DOJ: High-ranking officials behind threats to my life

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Janet Lim Napoles (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 11) — Former and current high-ranking officials are responsible for death threats received by a businesswoman charged in a multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam, a lawyer said.

"These are the public officials who want Mrs. Napoles to keep silent and not expose her knowledge on the issues she was in. Mrs. Napoles informed us that she is still receiving death threats, " said a letter dated May 5, 2017 from lawyer Stephen David to the Department of Justice concerning his client Janet Lim Napoles.

The letter was received by the Department of Justice on Tuesday, May 9.

In it, David requested Napoles's transfer from the Correctional Institution for Women to the National Bureau of Investigation.

David is set to meet with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre on Thursday concerning the request.

David, however, said he lacked proof on the persons threatening to kill Napoles.

"The undersigned firmly believes that the threats, although no direct proof can be shown as to who the perpetrators were, come from former and current high-ranking public officials," he said.

On May 5, the Court of Appeals upheld a decision acquitting Napoles of the charges of serious illegal detention.

Related: Janet Lim Napoles acquitted in serious illegal detention case

The threats apparently worsened after news circulated that she may be tapped as a state witness in the possible reopening of investigation into the alleged pork barrel scam or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

"There were several instances which her belongings were scattered inside her cell as if looking for something and almost every night, she started feeling unease for she felt someone is intently watching her," David said in the letter.

 

Napoles previously applied for immunity and to turn state witness in the pork barrel scam cases. The Ombudsman denied her application saying Napoles appears to be among the most guilty of those involved in the fraud.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday weighed in on Napoles turning into a state witness.

"As to the question of whether or not she could be utilized as a state witness, there's a law which says that one of the requirements at least she appears to be the least guilty. If you are a major player, I don't know if you can do it," Duterte said at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 prior to his departure for a six-day visit to Cambodia, Hong Kong, and China.

Napoles faces multiple corruption charges before the Sandiganbayan for allegedly conspiring with lawmakers to divert millions of pesos in pork barrel funds to bogus non-government organizations.

She was first indicted for plunder and graft in 2014, in cases filed against former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla, and Jinggoy Estrada.

Her lawyer says she was prepared to tell all she knows about the alleged fraud, but the previous administration of Benigno Aquino III refused to include her in the investigation.

"Panahon pa ng dating administrasyon sinabi na niya lahat. Kaya lang ayaw pakinggan dahil may mga ka-alyado sila na tinamaan kaya polluted source daw si Napoles," David told reporters in the Sandiganbayan on Wednesday.

[Translation: "She divulged what she knew during the previous administration. But they didn't want to listen to her because there were allies in the administration who were involved and considered Napoles a 'polluted source.'"]

"Pero ngayon fair naman ang administrasyon, gusto nila malaman ano nangyari sa PDAF," he added.

[Translation: "But now it seems the present administration is fair, and they want to know what happened to the PDAF."]

President Duterte expressed his support for Napoles's acquittal over the case of illegally detaining her cousin Benhur Luy.

"As a former prosecutor, I cannot think of how a person could be a victim of being hostage when he had, all the while, all the opportunity to go out and never come back, and he was allowed to go home," the President said on Wednesday, referring to Luy.