MANILA: A Philippine businesswoman who allegedly helped legislators embezzle 10 billion pesos ($230 million) in government funds has surrendered to President Benigno Aquino, officials said Thursday.
Clad in jeans, pink sneakers and a hoodie, Janet Napoles strode into Malacanang presidential palace late Wednesday, according to photographs released by Aquino’s office.
The middle-aged woman had eluded a nationwide police manhunt as details of her family’s lavish lifestyle fueled popular outrage in social media.
“Now that we got her, we can bring her to court,” Aquino spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters.
Napoles faced arrest for allegedly detaining an aide-turned-whistle-blower to keep him from revealing details of the alleged embezzlement.
However justice officials are readying additional charges that she allegedly connived with legislators to siphon off money from a development fund.
Lacierda said he fetched Napoles from a Manila cemetery Wednesday night and brought her directly to the palace after her lawyer alerted the government that she wanted to surrender.
Napoles was taken to the national police headquarters, Lacierda said.
The surrender came three days after tens of thousands of Filipinos held a protest demanding her arrest and the abolition of legislators’ controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund.
The fund is supposed to finance lawmakers’ pet development schemes, but critics charge they are a source of corruption.