Fugitive businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the country's most wanted woman, surrendered last night to President Aquino a few hours after the government offered a P10-million bounty for her arrest.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the President turned Napoles over to the custody of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima for processing and booking.
''At 9:37 p.m. on August 28, Janet Napoles surrendered to President Aquino. Napoles is wanted on charges of serious illegal detention arising from the alleged kidnapping of Benhur Luy,'' Lacierda said.
Napoles'counsel, lawyer Lorna Kapunan, said her client surrendered because of threats to her life.
Earlier in the day, President Aquino announced the bounty for Napoles' arrest after attending the 8th East Asia Conference on Competition Law and Policy in Pasay City.
''Ten million (pesos) ang reward for information leading to the arrest of Napoles,'' Aquino had said.
The President also issued a stern warning on Napoles' coddlers, saying they will also be held liable.
No TRO For Arrest
And with the Court of Appeals (CA) failing to issue yesterday a temporary restraining order (TRO), there's no reason to stop the for Napoles' brother Reynald Lim, her co-accused.
Instead of a TRO, the CA directed the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and other respondents in the case to file their comments in 10 days. Napoles was also ordered to file her reply in five days from receipt of the comment.
Before Napoles' arrest, the President had expressed confidence that she and other fugitives will soon be caught by authorities.
Kapunan had earlier said her client wants to come out if only the President can assure her safety.
Kapunan added that President Aquino seems ill-advised in offering the P10-million reward money.
''Napoles is not a criminal, not even a convicted felon... These reports of bounty, of involving the Interpol - I even heard of a shoot-to-kill order - are all these inducements meant to make her surrender? No. But we are making it clear that she is innocent of the charges. Sadly, the advisers of the President convinced him to issue the reward money,'' Kapunan said.
De Lima Scored
The lawyer further denied the claims of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima that the NBI cannot enforce the arrest warrants on her because she has heavily armed bodyguards, that she owned several yacht, planes, and submarines which she could use as means to escape.
''These allegations all come from whistleblowers who are paid hacks. She is still here in the country, and she is not leaving because she wants to clear her name. She wants to come out, if only the President can assure her safety,'' she said.
Aside from Napoles, other high-profile fugitives being hunted by the government are former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron mayor Mario Reyes; retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, former Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte Rep. Ruben Ecleo, Jr., and Globe Asiatique chief executive officer Delfin Lee, who all have a bounty of P2 million each.
President Aquino, however, said no bounty has yet been discussed for information leading to the arrest of Napoles' brother, Reynald Lim, who is also being linked to the P10-million pork barrel scam.
Church Denies Surrender Feelers
The Archdiocese of Manila, responding to queries that Napoles sent surrender feelers to the church, denied receiving any surrender feeler from controversial fugitive businesswoman.
Peachy Yamsuan, head of the Archdiocese of Manila's Office of Communications (AOC), said Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle did not receive any such letter nor talk with Napoles or her lawyer.
''The cardinal has not spoken with Janet Napoles or her lawyer Atty. (Lorna) Kapunan,'' Yamsuan added.
No Contribution To PNoy, Erap, Villar
Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Napoles did not contribute to the 2010 presidential campaigns of President Aquino, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, and former senator Manny Villar.
A friend of Napoles had earlier disclosed that the latter donated to the campaign funds of Aquino, Villar, and Estrada in 2010.
But based on the Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) that the three submitted to the Comelec during the May 2010 polls nothing shows she had contributions to the presidential candidates' campaign funds.
According to the SOCE, Aquino received a total of P440 million contributions, Estrada P227.5 million donations, and Villar had zero contribution.
The Comelec clarified this in the wake of movie talk show host Lolit Solis' revelation that Napoles contributed to the campaign kitty of the three 2010 presidential candidates. (With reports from Rey G. Panaligan, Leslie Ann G. Aquino, Ellson A. Quismorio, and Ben R. Rosario)