By: Ernie Reyes, InterAksyon.com | Marlene Alcaide, News5 November 21, 2013 6:42 PM
MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile on Thursday thanked Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales for denying reports that purportedly named him as the "mastermind" of the pork barrel scam after asking her office to investigate the leak of the supposed report to a newspaper. This, as Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the NBI report deems all those charged as co-conspirators, and shot down suggestions to make Janet Napoles stand as state witness.
In a statement, Enrile said he instructed his lawyers to request the Ombudsman to investigate and discipline all those involved in the leak of an inexistent report.
Included in the letter is a request to secure emails and phone records of the persons from the Ombudsman's Office the Philippine Daily Inquirer named in the report.
“This is merely the latest and most outrageous of a series of supposed leaks by the Inquirer, clearly intended to malign and defame me. The pattern is clearly designed to try me by publicity. This is a violation of due process and a clear breach of journalistic ethics,” Enrile said.
His lawyers are also writing the Inquirer to demand an apology and to require that the Ombudsman's denial be given the same prominence as that of the false report.
He demanded that the broadsheet cooperate fully with the Ombudsman's “investigation of this fake leak and disclose who is responsible for it.”
Enrile maintained his innocence and his determination to cooperate fully with the Ombudsman to bring to justice all those truly responsible for this scam.
Relatedly, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that if the complaint filed with the Ombudsman by the NBI were to be used as basis, all those charged, including Enrile and two senators, are “conspirators” and Janet Lim Napoles is the mastermind.
Still, de Lima said if there is indeed a report tagging Enrile as mastermind, there is no conflict because the complaint tags all those named as co-conspirators. “As far as the NBI is concerned, all those charged are co-conspirators. Each participated in a grand conspiracy to steal public funds, in varying roles and degrees of culpability. The act of one is the act of all.”
De Lima added, “There’s not real conflict there. Any perceived conflict is more apparent than real; hence, immaterial.”
She was cool to suggestions by Senator Miriam Santiago to have Napoles serve as state witness if Enrile were the mastermind. De Lima said Napoles cannot qualify as state witness until she acknowledges her role in the scam—something which, based on her behaviour in the Senate blue ribbon hearing, she is obviously not prepared to do, noted de Lima.
“We all saw her stance during the senate blue ribbon committee hearing. Mrs. Napoles should first admit her participation in the criminal conspiracy before we can ever consider her as state witness.”