Aguirre, Medialdea deny giving legal advice to Napoles camp

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Janet Lim Napoles

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 20) — Two top government officials on Tuesday denied giving legal advice to the camp of alleged pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim Napoles.

Napoles' lawyer Stephen David said on Monday Malacañang played a role in its plea to move her a regular jail to a safehouse after she was provisionally placed in the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Witness Protection Program (WPP).

The lawyer claimed he met and consulted with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, but this was denied by the Palace executive.

"Why would I give a legal advice to a lawyer for his client. If I were his client I will fire him," Medialdea said in a text message.

DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, who was also in the meeting, supported Medialdea's statement.

"It's not giving legal advice. He (was) just giving his opinion," he said in a media briefing Tuesday.

Aguirre said he refused David's plea for the DOJ to order the transfer of Napoles from Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig to a DOJ safehouse. Then the lawyer supposedly tried to appeal this through the Executive Secretary, but to no avail.

"Gusto niya i-overrule ako ng seeming representative of the Office of the President kasi ayaw kong pumayag na kukunin ko na lang si Janet Napoles sa kulungan at ilalagay ko sa WPP. Hindi kako pupwede 'yan. Mag-file ka ng motion sa Sandiganbayan. Ganun din ang opinion ni ES so 'yun ang ginawa niya," Aguirre said.

[Translation: He wanted the representative of the Office of the President to overrule me because I did not want to agree that I will take Napoles from jail and place her under WPP. That's not allowed. I told him to file a motion before the Sandiganbayan. That was also the Executive Secretary's opinion, so that's what David did.]

The camp of Napoles, who has been placed under state protection since February 27, filed an urgent motion before the Sandiganbayan on March 16 to request for her transfer.

To be transferred, Napoles needs the approval of Sandiganbayan because she faces several plunder and graft charges for her alleged involvement in a P10-billion pork barrel scam.

Napoles' provisional entry into the WPP has stirred speculation that the administration may have forged a compromise deal with the pork barrel scam prime suspect, but Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque denied this.

"Attorney David was there to appeal that Secretary Medialdea should reverse the position of the DOJ Secretary. He did not succeed so that's proof that Malacañang is not behind anything as far as Napoles is concerned," Roque said.

The DOJ is looking into Napoles' affidavit where she promised to "tell all."

Her lawyers have said she is prepared to reveal big personalities involved in the scam.

CNN Philippines senior correspondent Ina Andolong contributed to this report.