EXCLUSIVE: Justice Secretary leaves Napoles' fate to NBI, Ombudsman

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 21) — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Thursday that he was open to what alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles has to say — but it's a matter that is out of his hands.

The Secretary told CNN Philippines' The Source that his Department has since left the investigation to the National Bureau of Investigation.

"Of course, yes," Guevarra said on whether he would listen to Napoles. "But the thing is, we have already thrown this to the NBI."

"[It] will take the lead in determining whether they will approach [Napoles' lawyer] Stephen David or Ms. Napoles, or let them come to the NBI and divulge whatever information they may have," he added.

In May, the Justice Department removed Napoles from provisional coverage under its Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Program.

As for whether or not she could still be a state witness, Guevarra says it is up to the Ombudsman.

"The prosecutor there is not the [DOJ], but the Ombudsman... It will be them who will determine whether a certain witness will be used by the state or not," he said.

RELATED: Aguirre was 'out of tune' putting Napoles under witness protection - Ombudsman

Napoles is accused of funneling ₱10 billion in lawmakers' funds to bogus non-government organizations through programs like the Disbursement Acceleration Program and Priority Development Assistance Fund.

She sought the status of state witness as she claimed threats to her life, promising more information on 100 congressmen and 20 senators. After removal from the program, her lawyer David lamented, "The government's not listening."

However, Guevarra said that Napoles' camp "[has] not even communicated with us." He added that she was free to share information even without protection.

 

Napoles' admission to the witness protection program in February had been only one of the controversies surrounding former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre's term. Guevarra replaced Aguirre in April.

"There's no factual basis for maintaining that protection anymore," said Guevarra.

He pointed out that she was already facing cases before the Sandiganbayan, the country's anti-graft and corruption court.

"We cannot move her to a safehouse... because the court already had control over the case and over her person," said Guevarra. "So what's the point of protecting her and continuing, maintaining [her] request?"