Oct 302013

Janet Lim-Napoles’ staunch defender, lawyer Lorna Kapunan, insisted Wednesday that her decision to resign as lead counsel was a “collective decision” she made with Napoles’ consent.

In a report aired on “24 Oras” early Wednesday evening, Kapunan said she decided to resign as Napoles’ lawyer to speed up the resolution of the serious illegal detention case against the detained businesswoman.

“[My decision to resign] was a collective decision [made by] Atty. (Alfredo) Villamor, Mrs. Napoles and myself. We must recall that this is a bail hearing, and the quicker she is released from detention on bail, the better,” she said.

Kapunan said Villamor, formerly corroborating counsel in the case, will now have the primary responsibility of defending Napoles in court. She also expressed confidence that Villamor will handle the case well. 

“Atty. Villamor is very familiar with Benhur and the circumstances of this case because siya yung nag-handle ng kaso sa investigation,” she said.

Napoles is also facing two plunder charges at the Office of the Ombudsman for supposedly funneling billions in government money to ghost projects.

She was arrested for allegedly detaining her former employee Benhur Luy, who eventually became a whistleblower and testified on her alleged anomalous deals with government officials.

Kapunan accompanied Napoles when she surrendered to President Benigno Aquino III on August 28, and has been vigorously defending her client in various media appearances.

The lawyer said her decision to leave did not mean she found her client guilty. She added that she is still open to the possibility of accompanying Napoles to the Senate hearing on the pork barrel scam on November 7.

“Do we not believe in the innocence of our client? I think that’s irrelevant,” she said.

While Kapunan said she might consider representing Napoles in the plunder cases filed against her before the Office of the Ombudsman, she made clear she will have to think about accepting another offer from the businesswoman’s camp.

“That’s a decision that she and us (her lawyers) still have to make. Like I said, there are still many considerations for us to think about,” she said.

The “24 Oras” report said Napoles has already signed documents confirming Kapunan’s withdrawal as her lead counsel.

Lawyer Diosfa Valencia, clerk of court of Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150, however said in an earlier report that the court has yet to receive a formal motion from Kapunan to withdraw as counsel for Napoles. Xianne Arcangel/JDS, GMA News

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