Napoles removed from DOJ's witness protection program

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 25) — Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles is no longer covered by the government's witness protection program (WPP).

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday terminated Napoles' provisional coverage under its WPP.  

The DOJ said its move is in line with the decision of the first, third, and fifth divisions of anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to deny Napoles' motion to be transferred from Camp Bagong Diwa to the custody of DOJ. This makes Napoles' admission to the WPP "moot and academic," the DOJ said.

In a bid to justify her need for government protection, Napoles' camp in March claimed that her jail cell was ransacked in October last year.

But the DOJ on Friday said, "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."

Napoles' provisional coverage to the WPP was granted by resigned Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre on February 27 "for witness duty only" and for only up to 90 days, the DOJ said.

 

Napoles is accused of funneling P10 billion in lawmakers' funds to bogus non-government organizations. Her lawyer Stephen David, earlier told CNN Philippines Napoles filed new affidavits on what she knows about the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in 2013. He denied she was the mastermind.

David on Friday said stripping Napoles of state protection will prevent her from revealing the big names who are really involved in the scam. "Sayang kasi mahirap naman magsalita siya na may threat sa buhay niya dun sa loob (Alas, because it is hard for he to speak knowing that there are threats in her life in jail)."

Malacañang, meanwhile, stood by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra's decision.

"We support DOJ (Secretary) decision and agree that (Napoles) is not the least guilty whose testimony is not indispensible and can be testified upon by other witnesses," Presidential Spokesperon Harry Roque said in a statement.

Guevarra earlier hurled strong words against Napoles, saying she has no right to demand to be transferred to DOJ custody because her provisional coverage "merely signifies that she has yet to complete all the requirements and/or that her application is still under evaluation."