Janet Lim-Napoles, the woman at the centre of the nationwide corruption scandal regarding the ‘pork barrel’ that has plagued the country since July 12, 2013 has surrended herself to President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday night.
Lim-Napoles’ submission ends the long search across the nation that has seen detectives and officials searching airports, ports and other possible locations from which she could flee the country.
The wealthy Manila businesswoman was arrested on a warrant served to her, detailing the accusation of the “illegal detention” of a witness which she claims to have aided in the diversion of billions of pesos from poverty reduction programs. The money was diverted to the pockets and funds of lawmakers and their associates, who have now come under scrutiny since the reveal of the scandal. Lim-Napoles also has additional charges pending against her.
Outrage was also sparked after Ms. Lim-Napoles’ daughter posted evidence of herself on social media enjoying lavish vacations, luxury vehicles and expensive parties with celebrities. Protests revolving around the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scandal extended to Monday, with over tens of thousands protesting in the streets.
A government investigation into the scandal revealed details that at least 10 billion pesos (equating to around US$141 million) was diverted from poverty programs into the pockets of politicians.
Ms. Lim-Napoles apparently met with presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda at a Manila cemetery on Wednesday night, asking for assistance in turning herself in and whether or not she could directly surrender herself to the President as opposed to law officials. Mr. Lacierda took her to Mr. Aquino’s residence, where it was promised that she will be given due process.
Mr Lacierda has denied allegations of special treatment due to Ms. Lim-Napoles surrender.
“Let me just say that the president is an honorable man,” Mr. Lacierda said at an afternoon news conference. “It is in our culture that if the fugitive throws himself at the mercy of the highest official the president is honor-bound to secure and receive the fugitive.”