Fortun’s post, Kapunan’s point-A A +A
Monday, September 23, 2013
A RECENT post by lawyer Raymond Fortun circulated in social networking sites had him announcing:
“In the midst of my retreat, I received an inquiry to act as counsel for one of the respondents in the upcoming plunder case to be filed by DOJ. I said, no. Am ‘all in’ for the prosecution. It could have been a seven figure acceptance retainer...But I couldn’t feed my family with money that may have sat inside a bathtub at one time.”
Fortun was among those who lawyered for former president Joseph Estrada when his plunder case was being heard (Erap was subsequently convicted, then pardoned by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo). His critics can therefore scoff at his refusal to defend the respondents in the plunder case filed against Janet Lim-Napoles and some lawmakers.
But I always am for people who make up for past “mistakes.” Fortun showed that, yes, lawyers can do a good turn.
Another topnotch lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, is defending the alleged mastermind in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, Janet Lim-Napoles. Kapunan was known as cause-oriented bedore she became lawyer for celebrities with interesting cases. But she is good.
Consider the way she is handling the Napoles case. Two words: well calibrated.
“She may be the worst villain now,” Kapunan said of Napoles in a report posted the other day by abs-cbnnews.com. “But in the end she has the choice of being the key to opening up what may be the sweepstakes ticket we’ve been waiting for.”
Is she asking Napoles to tell us all?
In that interview, Kapunan lamented why all the vitriol are being heaped on her client while the other respondents, especially Sens. Juan Ponce-Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada, seem to be getting less of the hate. She said: “People will say the PDAF is equal to Napoles. Why not PDAF is equal to senators?”
As I noted in a previous column, zeroing in solely on Napoles will allow the lawmakers to wiggle out of this mess. Kapunan seemed to share that view. “The sad part is, the (lawmakers) are riding on this mind-conditioning. ‘Hindi namin alam 'yan,’ they would say. Hindi pwedeng hindi n'yo alam. You either know or you ought to know,” she said.
No, I won’t go as far as where Kapunan is headed, which seems to be to portray Napoles as saintly. Napoles can be deserving of the plunder case. Still, I share Kapunan’s point that the lawmakers’ guilt can’t be downplayed. They were the ones who got the money, people’s money in billions of pesos, for Napoles to tinker with. “To say that ‘it’s just Napoles,’ I think that’s BS,” she noted.
I don’t know how this can be done without depriving the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the Office of the Ombudsman of the right to jail Napoles for plunder. Can Napoles’s testimony be used without making her a state witness?
As I have written earlier, it is Napoles and not the whistleblowers led by Benhur Luy who can break wide open the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
That’s what Kapunan meant when she said that Napoles is the “key to opening up what may be the sweepstakes ticket we’ve been waiting for.” Napoles was the one who dealt directly with the lawmakers. Luy, et al, mainly followed Napoles orders while largely
confined in the office.
That’s why I find interesting Kapunan’s suggestion for probers to follow what Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has suggested, which is to get the testimony of Napoles now before somebody succeeds in silencing her. “The rules of Court allows her to give her testimony well before trial,” the senator had said.
I profess ignorance of the legal procedures that should be followed here. But I agree that it has become imperative for the public to know the full extent of the scam the soonest possible time, something that Napoles can help achieve.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 24, 2013.