Napoles can't turn state witness, Santiago says

Kim Arveen Patria
Kim Arveen Patria
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago (Photo from Santiago's Facebook page)

Businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles should not be allowed to escape prosecution by turning state witness, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said.

The biggest hurdle in any move to bring Napoles to the witness stand, Santiago said, would be proving that she is not the most guilty in the pork barrel scam.

“Napoles will find it extremely difficult to prove her claim that she is not the most guilty,” said the senator, who is a former regional trial court judge.

Napoles, the central figure in the P10-billion scam implicating at least 28 lawmakers, surrendered to President Benigno Aquino III late Wednesday.

While she is currently only facing charges of serious illegal detention of whistleblower Benhur Luy, charges related to the scam are expected soon.

Malacanang is meanwhile bombarded with questions over the possibility of Napoles taking the witness stand for the prosecution of lawmakers involved.

Santiago noted that one of the five requirements for an accused to turn state witness is that he or she does not appear to be most guilty.

“It appears that Napoles was the mastermind, so she is the most guilty,” Santiago said, even as she deferred to the court to finally decide on the matter.

Aside from not being most guilty, Santiago said an accused who wishes to be discharged as state witness should also meet the following requirements:

-There is absolute necessity for the testimony of the accused whose discharge is requested

-There is no other direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the offense committed, except the testimony of the accused

- The testimony of the accused can be substantially corroborated in its material points

-The accused has not at any time been investigated of any offense involving moral turpitude

Santiago said further: “[I]t appears that many persons in her syndicate know of the conspiracy to plunder, so her discharge is not absolutely necessary.”