Press Release
August 29, 2013


     Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, a former RTC judge, said that Janet Napoles, a prime suspect in the alleged plunder of P10B in pork barrel funds, should not be allowed to escape prosecution by the expedient of turning state witness.

     "There are five requirements for an accused to turn state witness. One of the requirements is that the accused does not appear to be the most guilty. Napoles will find it extremely difficult to prove her claim that she is not the most guilty," the senator said.

     The senator said that if the interagency antigraft coordinating council decides to charge Napoles and her subordinates with plunder, there will also be corresponding plunder charges against some five senators and 23 representatives that media have identified on the basis of affidavits executed by the Napoles employees.

     Santiago also said if Napoles is charged in court, her lawyer must file a motion for discharge of Napoles as a state witness. The court will then proceed to conduct a hearing in support of the discharge. The court will require the prosecution to present evidence and the sworn statement of the witnesses at a hearing in support of the discharge.

     Santiago said that under the Rules of Court, the requirements for the discharge of an accused to be a state witness are:

1. There is absolute necessity for the testimony of the accused whose discharge is requested;
2. There is no other direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the offense committed,
    except the testimony of the accused;
3. The testimony of the accused can be substantially corroborated in its material points;
4. The accused does not appear to be the most guilty; and
5. The accused has not at any time been investigated of any offense involving moral turpitude.

     "If the court denies the Napoles motion for discharge as state witness, her sworn statement shall be inadmissible in evidence," she said.

     Santiago said the discharge of Napoles to be state witness will consider the following factors: her actual and individual participation in the commission of plunder, as well as the gravity or nature of the acts committed by Napoles compared to those of her co-accused, presumably the five senators and 23 representatives named by whistleblowers who are now under the Witness Protection Program.

     "It is the court that will finally determine whether the requirements have been justified to justify the discharge of Napoles," Santiago said.

     Santiago said that in the 1983 landmark case of Flores v. Sandiganbayan, the Supreme Court refused the discharge as state witness because the accused appeared to be the most guilty and appeared to be the mastermind in the commission of the crime of bank robbery.

     "In that landmark case, the Court, in determining whether the accused was the most guilty, took into consideration that the crime was done in public and witnessed by several persons," Santiago said.

     In the subsequent 1996 case of Chua v. Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court discharged the accused to be state witness on the ground that the crime of falsification of private documents was done clandestinely.

     In the Chua case, the Court held: "In fact only two persons had the knowledge of the criminal conspiracy, the discharge of one of the conspirators is essential so he can testify against the other conspirators."

     "It appears that Napoles was the mastermind, so she is the most guilty. Further, it appears that many persons in her syndicate know of the conspiracy to plunder, so her discharge is not absolutely necessary," Santiago said.

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