Thursday| May 18, 2017
Chief presidential legal counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo said that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales can still change her decision against turning alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles into a state witness.
Panelo stressed that the Ombudsman’s decision would depend on the evidence that the Department of Justice (DOJ) would submit to the anti-graft body.
“It could be that that’s the initial impression of the Ombudsman. As I always say, there are as many opinions as there are lawyers. And lawyers can change their mind, depending on the facts, figures presented before that lawyer. So, there may be some evidence to the Ombudsman that may persuade her to change her mind,” he told reporters in Malacañang.
“But right now, that is the opinion of the Ombudsman and as a lawyer and knowing the Ombudsman, her competence, her integrity, and her excellence, I will have to defer,” he added.
Carpio said that her office would block any move to turn Napoles into a state witness and stressed that they were not bothered by the "exploratory talks" between the DOJ and the Napoles' camp.
"We are confident with our position. So whatever they say, let them say it. We are not bothered. We are not concerned at all by whatever they say," she said.
Panelo said that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II would want the Ombudsman to reconsider her position.
“Under the law, it’s the Ombudmsan who will prosecute plunder cases. If that’s the opinion of Ombudsman, then it should prevail," Aguirre said.
"Now, I think what Secretary Aguirre wants is for the Ombudsman to consider such an alternative but ultimately, it’s the Ombudsman who will decide… [Future] Plunder cases [involving Napoles] are under the exclusive jurisdiction of Ombudsman,” he added.
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