(UPDATE5) Just hours after Malacanang set a P10-million bounty for any information leading to her arrest, Janet Napoles surrendered to President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.
Napoles, who is wanted for alleged serious illegal detention of Benhur Luy, a whistle-blower in the P10-billion "pork barrel" scam, surrendered around 9:37 pm, Wednesday.
"Janet Napoles surrendered to President Aquino. Napoles is wanted on charges of serious illegal detention arising from the alleged kidnapping of Benhur Luy," Malacanang said in a statement.
Malacanang said Aquino turned over Napoles to Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas and "Philippine National Police Director-General Alan Purisima for processing and booking."
Napoles surprised the whole nation when, after hiding for over two weeks, suddenly surrendered--not just to any law officer but to the highest official of the land, President Aquino.
This move raised several speculations such as the surrender being a "scripted" plan to surface Napoles, as claimed by Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon.
Roxas however said Napoles opted to surrender to the President out of fear for her life.
"Hindi siya ang maimpluwensiya. Ang pangulo ay nakatanggap ng surrender feeler…si Napoles na possible witness o hinahanap dahil napakalaki ng iniimbestigahan, karapat dapat lang na maibalik sa kustodiya," Roxas told reporters at Camp Crame, where Napoles will be detained.
Roxas also said there is no special treatment for Napoles.
"Trabaho namin ito. Wanted siya na tao. Mas gusto mo ba na hindi namin pansinin ito e hinahanap siya ng buong sambayanan? Siya ang nasa sentro ng napakalaking anomalya na ito. Mahalaga ma-isecure siya para malaman natin ang katotohanan. Ginagawa natin ang lahat para mai-secure natin ang kaniyang testimony," added Roxas.
How it happened
Roxas said authorities fetched Napoles and her husband at an undisclosed but "secured" location before they were brought to Malacanang to talk to the president.
"Kasama ng kaniyang asawa ay sinundo sa isang secured location at dinala sa Malacanang at doon siya hinarap ng pangulo. Bago sila nagharap ng pangulo, chineck ang kaniyang medical situation para masigurong ligtas siya," said Roxas. But on Thursday, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said he met the Napoleses at Heritage Park in Taguig.
Roxas said Aquino then vowed to secure Napoles, amid claims that there are threats to her life.
"Ang interes ng pangulo ay malaman ang buong katotohanan…wala tayong sasantuhin," said Roxas.
Napoles was able to reach the President through presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, he added.
Social media sites were abuzz with Napoles' sudden surrender. It could be recalled that Monday's successful Luneta protest, spurred by discussions on Facebook and Twitter, called not only for the abolition of the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) but for Napoles' immediate arrest.
Reynaldo Lim, Napoles' brother, who is also wanted for serious illegal detention charges will soon surrender as well, ABS-CBN newscast Bandila quoted Kapunan as saying.
Businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles was ordered arrested by Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 last August 14. Napoles has since been unseen and reports that she left the country, or have had plastic surgery floated.
On Wednesday, authorities were checking reports of missing yachts which could have been supposedly used by Napoles to escape.
Napoles made headlines for allegedly orchestrating a massive money-making scheme that involved several lawmakers. The pork barrel scam supposedly diverted PDAF to bogus non-government organizations.
Meanwhile, here are what some netizens think of Napoles' surrender: