Noy denies links with Napoles
Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - May 24, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines - Former president Benigno Aquino III denied any links with detained pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles and questioned the idea of making her a state witness when she had been seen to be in the middle of the scheme to make money out of lawmakers’ funds.

Aquino said it was “absurd” to allege that he benefitted from the scam when he was part of the opposition at the time it was reportedly being committed, meaning he was not getting any pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

The scam covered 2003 to 2013 PDAF allocations of lawmakers. Aquino was elected president in 2010.

Aquino said those who would believe the allegations against him related to the PDAF scam must “make sure they are wide awake” and “are thinking” because “it will be difficult to walk dreaming with eyes wide open.”

He also clarified anew the circumstances behind the surrender of Napoles at Malacañang in 2013 to belie claims she was given VIP treatment because of alleged ties with his administration.

“All the propaganda being done against us in the past are being revived now but the bottom line is, to be direct about it… she would already surrender so the issue was done, there would be no need for us to wait for years before we could capture this Ms. Napoles,” Aquino told journalists in a chance interview during the launching of the book, Politiko 365 in Quezon City.

Aquino cited the case of former military general Jovito Palparan Jr., who had expressed his intention to surrender but only to him as president and he did not oblige.

“My answer then was, ‘Why would he surrender to me when I was not a law enforcement authority?’ So I turned it down and it took years before Palparan was captured,” Aquino said.

Palparan went into hiding after being indicted in 2011 for kidnapping and serious illegal detention until his arrest in 2014. He was considered one of the high-profile fugitives and a manhunt was launched against him.

Aquino said Napoles turned herself in just after the reward for her capture had been authorized.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said it would reinvestigate the pork barrel anomaly and claimed officials higher than senators could be involved. The lawyer of Napoles accused former budget secretary Florencio Abad of “mentoring” his client to perpetrate the crime through fake organizations.

Former Negros Oriental representative and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption member Jacinto Paras also disclosed in a forum in Quezon City recently that Napoles “casually” told him before the 2010 presidential elections that Aquino got commissions from her too.

Aquino’s spokesperson, lawyer Abigail Valte, said Paras’ claims were preposterous and that critics of the former president would do anything to link him to the scam.

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