Aug 142013
The hunt continues for Janet Lim-Napoles, who was ordered arrested Wednesday for the “serious illegal detention” of a whistleblower in a P10-billion pork barrel scandal.

The businesswoman is still at large and the arrest warrant has yet to be served Thursday even as her lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, said she has not spoken to Napoles, nor did she know her client’s whereabouts. 

“In all truthfulness, we do not know where she is. I am saying to you as officer of the court if she is listening to this, we are still appealing and saying she has legal remedies under the law and we are studying her legal options,” Kapunan said in a telephone interview on News to Go on Thursday. 

Branch 150 of RTC-Makati issued warrants of arrest on Wednesday afternoon for Napoles, the alleged mastermind behind the kidnapping of Benhur Luy, and Napoles’s brother Reynald ‘Jojo’ Lim. 
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said Napoles may also face charges in connection with anomalies involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, of several lawmakers. 

“NBI has been working the whole time on an investigation of the PDAF,” De Lima said in a telephone interview on News to Go on Thursday.

“Pine-prepare na namin ‘yan kung anong mga kaso ang isasampa at sinu-sino ang mga sasampahan ng kaso other than Napoles,” said De Lima, who said she could not confirm how many lawmakers would be facing charges, as the investigation was still ongoing.

“Ayaw pa namin magpalabas ng listahan o mag-announce ng mga pangalan na hindi pa ganun kasigurado,” De Lima said.

However, De Lima said they had sufficient evidence from whistleblowers’ testimonies as well as supporting documents against a number of lawmakers, who may face charges in the next few weeks. 

“Baka ‘yung pagsampa namin ng kaso ay by batches or piecemeal. Kasi kung hihintayin ho namin ng buo, baka matagal-tagal pa ito. Gusto na ho namin na makapagsampa kaagad ng mga ilan-ilan na kaso para mapatunayan sa publiko na sineseryoso namin itong imbestigasyon na ito na merong pinatutunguhan, na merong resulta,” she said.

De Lima stressed that the warrants of arrest were effectively also hold departure orders that would prevent them from escaping to other countries through airports or ports.

“Once they are spotted in any of these ports, kailangan i-alert agad ang NBI to implement the warrant of arrest. Effectively it’s an HDO,” she said.

Meanwhile, Kapunan said the warrants of arrest came as a surprise, as the illegal detention case had already been dismissed.

“Without any hearing on the motion for reconsideration, and without any additional evidence presented, nag-reverse ang DOJ. We are wondering why,” Kapunan said.

According to De Lima, they requested a special raffle from the RTC-Makati because the case was urgent.

“It is so desperate on the part of the Secretary and so pathetic that they should do this to her,” said Kapunan, who said there was an “orchestrated, deliberate campaign” against Napoles.

NBI agents rescued Luy on March 22 at the Pacific Plaza Tower, where he was detained for three months after Napoles and Lim allegedly abducted him on December 19, 2012.

Napoles, in a comment sent to the DOJ, claimed Luy was on spiritual retreat

On June 10, the DOJ dismissed the case, saying it was “misled” in ordering Luy’s “rescue,” noting the supposed letter Luy sent to his parents denying that he was taken against his will. 

However, NBI and Luy had filed for a motion of reconsideration, resulting in the reversal of the decision.

Appeal for surrender

Although Kapunan appealed to Napoles to surrender, she said she would understand if her client did not. 

“We have not been able to talk to her. If she is listening now we are saying, please surrender, as her lawyer, but I can understand why she will not. If you have a process like this where the DOJ Sec assures your client that they will get their day in court, when you have a judge that issues a warrant of arrest even when there are two pending motions… will she believe in this justice system after she was assured a fair day in court or after she was assured that there will be an objective treatment?” Kapunan said.

She also noted that they were unable to monitor the case, which was assigned to a special raffle.

“Even without receiving a resolution and to protect our client’s rights, we hastily prepared a motion for determination of probable cause which is her remedy under the circumstance. Pati ‘yung kapatid niya ganun din,” said Kapunan, adding that they have two pending motions with the RTC judge set for hearing on Friday.

“We are confident that at least the judge would give our clients their day in court,” she said. Carmela G. Lapeña/KG/HS, GMA News

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