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Sen. Jinggoy Estrada on Thursday said he will not be surprised if businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles implicates him in the P10 billion pork barrel scam.
In an interview, Estrada said Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the P10 billion pork barrel scam, might be coached on what to say in the scandal.
"I'm not saying that she will be used. But there are chances since she is already in government custody. As I mentioned earlier, some unscrupulous elements might just put words into her mouth," he said following Napoles' surrender to President Aquino.
He refused to say who these "elements" are who would coach Napoles.
He also said he will not be surprised if Napoles links him to the scam now that she is in government custody.
"Of course. Ang mahirap dito, we politicians, they are picturing us as thieves already... Ang pine-present sa media, yung NGOs na bogus na inaakala nila na merong cut ang legislators. Ako, I can prove that," he said.
He also said other opposition lawmakers might also be linked to the scam. "That's trending right now. WelI, I hope not. I'm just hoping and praying that she would tell the truth, nothing but the truth. Because if she will tell the truth, I have nothing to hide."
Estrada refused to comment on allegations that Napoles' surrender to President Aquino Wednesday night was scripted. He said he still believes in the sincerity of the President, saying it is up to the people to decide if the surrender was scripted.
Napoles has been accused of setting up fake non-government organizations to pocket pork barrel funds from certain lawmakers, who in turn allegedly got huge cuts from the deal with the businesswoman.
A Commission on Audit report earlier showed Estrada and 2 other senators regularly gave millions of pesos in pork barrel funds to NGOs controlled by Napoles. The report showed that several NGOs linked to Napoles received P1.23 billion from Estrada, Sen. Bong Revilla and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile from 2007 to 2009.
Estrada earlier said lawmakers have no responsibility to verify if NGOs that receive their pork barrel funds are legitimate.
He said it is the Department of Agriculture's job to check NGOs receiving pork barrel funds.
"It is not up to the senators to determine whether an NGO is bogus or not," he told reporters.
"Alangan naman na kami pa ang magsasabi na, 'Uy, bogus 'yan.' How will we know?" Estrada added that lawmakers only endorse NGOs, and that they do so in good faith.
He said he himself he himself would like to get to the bottom of the P10-billion pork barrel scam, despite being implicated in it.
He also confirmed that Napoles was his "acquaintance" after they met during parents' meetings in school. He said his daughter and Napoles' nephew were classmates.
He clarified that he never had business dealings with Napoles and did not know if the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) endorsements he signed before were actually for her.
"I wouldn't have known," he said.
'Whistle-blowers should take priority'
For his part, Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said he would rather listen to the testimony of the other whistle-blowers first before hearing what Napoles has to say.
He said the whistle-blowers in the scam have more credibility than Napoles.
Cayetano said he sees nothing wrong with Napoles' surrender to President Aquino, saying that he does not see how this could lead to "selective testimony" from her.
He refused to criticize the alleged special treatment given Napoles during her surrender but noted that she should go to an ordinary jail and treated like an ordinary Filipino.
He said Napoles could be place in a separate cell if there are threats to her life.
The senator urged Napoles to tell all about the scam, noting that the truth is her only protection. She said Napoles should execute an affidavit about the workings of the P10 billion pork barrel scam.
"Habang siya lang ang nakaaalam ng impormasyon na alam niya, magpapatuloy ang threat sa kanyang buhay," he said.