MANILA (Mabuhay) -– Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas confirmed Friday that he has special instructions from President Aquino to make sure that businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles is kept safe while in government custody.
Roxas said there is genuine concern on the part of the President that Napoles is kept alive while in custody amid the threats to her life. Any harm brought upon Napoles while in custody will be blamed on Malacañang, he said.
“There is one instruction that the President gave me: to ensure that she is alive. We want her to be alive to face the charges and whatever penalties might be there and/or to be able to give testimonies, evidence additional strengthening the governance case on this anti-corruption issue,” he said.
Napoles, the alleged mastermind in a multibillion-peso scandal involving lawmakers’ funds, surrendered to President Aquino in Malacañang Palace. She is currently detained at Makati City Jail over a serious illegal detention case by her former aide and pork scam whistle-blower Benhur Luy.
Various groups have criticized the Palace for the seeming special treatment given to Napoles during her surrender. Aquino personally went to national police headquarters to check on the camp’s security before her transfer.
On Thursday, Roxas also went to Makati City Jail ahead of Napoles’ transfer there. The DILG chief will also be returning to the jail later Friday to check on Napoles’ guards.
Napoles, the 104th female inmate of the Makati City Jail, is being guarded by two Special Action Force (SAF) personnel and two female jail officers.
In the interview, Roxas said the term “special treatment” is too loaded a phrase to describe the manner in which the government has handled Napoles.
“This is an extraordinary case. Tens of billions of pesos are involved here. Extraordinary names are being dragged here so these are also extraordinary circumstances,” he said.
Roxas rejected criticism that President Aquino made a mistake in allowing Napoles’ surrender in Malacañang on Wednesday. He said Aquino had two options after receiving surrender feelers from the Napoles camp: to accept her surrender and face criticism or ignore it and still face criticism.
“I think he made the right call because now she is in custody,” he said. (MNS)