MANILA (Mabuhay) – The former husband of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has denied having any relationship with detained pork barrel scam suspect Janet Lim-Napoles, saying he did not accompany the businesswoman when she visited the National Bureau of Investigation in May last year.
Lawyer Plaridel Bohol issued the statement Thursday in light of a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) ad hoc committee investigation into the alleged visit by Napoles before she was arrested.
“I, with due respect, would not want to speak through the media since there is a possibility that I may be called to the said (ad hoc) committee,” said Bohol in a statement.
“But if only to cut short the spin that it is being given by its author, I would like to state that I did not arrange that meeting,” he added.
Bohol said he was at the NBI headquarters visiting then Director Nonnatus Rojas when Napoles, accompanied by her lawyer Freddie Villanueva, walked into the NBI chief’s office.
Bohol recounted how he overheard Napoles complaining to Rojas about the NBI agents guarding his brother Reynaldo Lim at the hospital where he was confined after having been arrested for supposedly holding against his will Benhur Luy – a former employee of Napoles and now a state witness in the pork barrel case.
“I was there to greet Director Rojas a belated Happy Birthday since the day before was his birthday. We were having lunch when Atty. Freddie Villamor arrived and subsequently his client Janet Lim-Napoles,” Bohol said.
“(Napoles) complained to Dir. Rojas that the NBI agents guarding her brother at the St. Luke’s hospital were intruding on the private room of her brother every now and then causing inconvenience to him after a heart-bypass surgery,” the statement read.
Bohol said Napoles only stayed at the office “for a few minutes” after pleading with Rojas to look into the matter so her brother could recuperate in peace.
“At that time I had no knowledge or inkling that the same woman would be the center of the (Priority Development Assistance Fund) controversy since there was no news yet about the said PDAF scam,” Bohol added.
“I just hope that I am not being linked to this issue to connect me in a malicious way to the Secretary of Justice,” he added.
On Wednesday, dismissed NBI Deputy Director Reynaldo Esmeralda revealed that Napoles was accompanied by De Lima’s erstwhile husband, and two other lawyers, including Villamor, when she visited Rojas.
“They were there for Napoles,” Esmeralda said of the three lawyers.
Esmeralda and also dismissed NBI deputy director Ruel Lasala earlier presented a closed-circuit television footage of Napoles’ visit to the NBI. The date indicated in the footage was September 2013, but Esmeralda said the meeting took place in May 2013 but the CCTV camera failed to synch the actual date that time.
On Wednesday, Esmeralda and Lasala faced members of the NBI ad hoc committee investigating the supposed meeting between Napoles and Rojas.
De Lima refused to make any statement on the matter.
“I don’t want to comment on that because of the ongoing ad hoc committee investigation. I’m already aware of that because I have been curious about it, but I don’t want to pre-empt the ad hoc probe,” De Lima said. (MNS)