Controversial business woman Janet Lim-Napoles went into hiding to escape an arrest apparently before an arrest warrant was issued for her.
This was according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who told reporters that Napoles, also notoriously known as the “pork barrel queen” for being the alleged brains behind the multi-billion corruption scandal involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers and the P900-million Malampaya Fund scam, was tipped off on the issuance of an arrest warrant against her and her brother, Reynald Lim, even before it was announced to the public.
De Lima also told reporters that Napoles’ lawyers were already at the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 150 waiting for the arrest warrant even before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrived there to secure a copy of the warrant.
In other words, Napoles is now a high profile fugitive. I can almost hear the cheeky, taunting soundtrack of Catch Me If You Can.
Napoles and Lim were accused of abduction and illegal detention of Benhur Luy, the primary whistleblower of the pork barrel and Malampaya controversies.
“There are reported sightings [of Napoles]… nakita mga sasakyan nila… but these have not been validated… she is a high-profile fugitive from justice,” De Lima told reporters.
The justice secretary described Napoles as “well connected” and having the resources to escape authorities. Remember that the alleged porky queen is not a multi-millionaire. She can always afford to defy the law and go into hiding.
“Her lawyers were there (RTC) even before the NBI [agents] were there. Hindi na kami nagugulat na ganyan dahil sa resources ng mga ganyan,” De Lima said.
De Lima urged Napoles to surrender and prove her innocence in court.
When reached for comment, Napoles’ lawyer, Lorna Kapunan simply likened her controversial client to Senator Panfilo Lacson, who went into hiding for over a year after a Manila Regional Trial Court issued an arrest warrant in connection with the November 2000 murders of publicist Salvador Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.
“If you were Napoles, hindi ka ba magtatago? Even Lacson, a senator of the Philippines, was able to do it and was later vindicated,” Kapunan told in an interview with ABS-CBNnews.com.
How can a lawyer, who took an oath to uphold the law and the Constitution, say such a thing?
In effect, Kapunan was suggesting it’s just okay for people to defy court orders and be fugitive from justice because some people in power were also guilty of it.
A lawyer I personally know– also my fraternity brother– said that lawyers are supposed to uphold the rule of law and respect the law.
“A lawyer is telling us that we are justified in fleeing and hiding. This is dangerous. Shameful,” he said.
Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states: “A lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and for legal processes.”
I smell another disbarment or suspension case here.
By suggesting Napoles should hide, didn’t lawyer Kapunan blatantly violate her oath to uphold the law?
Here’s a report from ABS-CBNnews.com:
Kapunan said, however, that she does not know where her client is hiding. “I’m urging her to come forward.”
Asked if her having become a fugitive has all the more compromised her case, she said: “I don’t know…sa mata ng tao, she’s already guilty.”
She said people may think that innocence could best be proven if Napoles faces the music.
Nonetheless, the “media bullying” has also already shaped the public perception of Napoles, she said.
Kapunan said they’re thinking of legal remedies on how the warrants of arrest could be quashed.