Duterte hands-off on Napoles case

MANILA President Rodrigo R. Duterte will not meddle on whether supposed pork barrel mastermind, Janet Lim-Napoles, should be placed under the Witness Protection Program (WPP) or not, MalacaAang said Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark when sought for a comment on the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to provisionally admit Napoles into the WPP after providing more details on the misuse of the multi-billion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of some lawmakers.

Ang Presidente hindi po micro-manager. Nakasaad po sa batas na 'yung desisyon kung sino papapasukin sa WPP nakasalalay po 'yan sa mga prosecutors ng DOJ (The President is not a micro-manager. Our law states that it is the prosecutors of the DOJ who will decide on who to place under the WPP), Roque said in a briefing in Nabua, Camarines Sur.

Roque said it is too early for the public to be aggravated by this development since Napoles has not yet been admitted into the program yet.

He explained that a provisional admission did not mean that Napoles was already placed under the program.

She (Napoles) hasn't been admitted to the WPP. It is a provisional admission which only gives her temporary protection subject to the evaluation of the panel of prosecutors who will recommend her admission into the program, Roque said.

Roque said Duterte will remain hands-off until the DOJ has decided whether to admit her into the program or not.

So right now po, hands off muna ang Presidente, dahil wala pa namang desisyon (So right now, the President is hands off because there's no decision yet), Roque said.

Kapag nagkaroon po ng desisyon, tatanungin ko po kay Presidente kung sang-ayon ba siya o hindi sa magiging desisyon ng DOJ but to say anything now is premature. Wala pa pong desisyon 'yan (When the DOJ has reached a decision, I will ask the President whether he agrees or not but to say anything now is premature. There's no decision yet), he added.

Roque reiterated that the DOJ prosecutors have yet to evaluate whether she can be admitted to the program on the basis that she is not the most guilty and if her testimony is absolutely indispensable.

He also assured that even if Napoles is placed under the WPP, it does not guarantee that she's free from any liability.

Maski pa po makapasok yan sa WPP, hindi po maapektuhan ang pananagutan (Even if she does get placed under the WPP, her liability will not be affected), Roque said.

Aguirre still trusted

Roque, meanwhile, assured that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II still enjoyed the trust and confidence of the President despite his agency's decision to place Napoles under provisional admission and dismiss drug charges against big-time suspects Peter Lim and Kerwin Espinosa, among others.

Hanggang naririyan po ang miyembro ng gabinete, meron pa ring trust and confidence ang Presidente (Until he remains a member of the Cabinet, the President still has his trust and confidence), Roque said.

He said if Duterte no longer trusted Aguirre, then the justice chief would have been fired.

If he has lost trust and confidence, he (Duterte) will fire whoever he wants to fire, Roque said.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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