JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Tuesday the Department of Justice (DOJ) will continue pushing the government's initiative to turn Janet Napoles, alleged pork barrel scam mastermind, into a state witness.
This developed after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said they will block any attempt to make Napoles a state witness.
"It is the right of anybody to do anything as long as it not against the law," said Aguirre in a statement on Tuesday in reply to the Ombudsman.
"But since the DOJ has the exclusive right to put a witness under the Witness Protection Program, we will exercise it if need be," he added.
Morales on Tuesday criticized the government's plan to make Napoles as state witness to implicate more government officials and legislators in the misuse of lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund.
"As far as the prosecution is concerned, she is one of the principal alleged malefactors. So certainly the Office of the [Special] Prosecutor will block any attempt to make her a state witness," Morales said.
"It is the OSP (Office of the Special Prosecutor) which will consider whether or not she will be a state witness. And it's going to be the court who will finally approve whether or not she is going to be a state witness," she added.
The Court of Appeals had recently acquitted Napoles in the serious illegal detention case of Benhur Luy, her second cousin and whistleblower in the multibillion-peso corruption scandal, after it found that a Makati court erred in finding her guilty and sentencing her of up to 40 years in jail.
Amid the CA ruling in favor of Napoles, government officials, including Aguirre, dismissed claims that this will affect the cases of plunder and malversation Napoles is currently facing before the Sandiganbayan.
Aguirre said they are considering placing Napoles in the witness stand once proven that she is not the "most guilty" in the corruption scandal.
Aguirre last week met with Napoles' lawyers to discuss the plan to reopen the PDAF investigation. (SunStar Philippines)