Senate won't subpoena Napoles
MANILA (UPDATE 2) - Senate President Franklin Drilon on Tuesday said he will not approve a subpoena for businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles to attend a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry on the P10 billion pork barrel scam.
In a press briefing, Drilon said he is deferring to the opinion of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales that it is not advisable to allow Napoles to appear before the Senate inquiry due to pending cases filed against 38 individuals in connection with the scam.
"I submit that it would not be advisable at this time for Mrs. Napoles to testify before the committee," the Ombudsman's opinion read.
Drilon said the Ombudsman is in the best position to determine if Napoles' appearance will affect the case against her.
"I defer to the ruling of the Ombudsman, I am not about to debate on this point. I sought her advice and this is the advice that she has given us," he told reporters.
"She has made a plea hoping that the Senate will understand the concerns for her office under the contextual circumstances of the cases against Mrs. Napoles so that her office can effectively discharge its mandate," he added.
He said he has signed a request by Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman TG Guingona to subpoena Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to allow whistle-blowers in the pork barrel scam to appear at the Senate hearing on Thursday.
Guingona earlier said he was disappointed that Drilon sought the Ombudsman's opinion on Napoles' possible appearance in the Senate inquiry instead of signing the subpoena.
He said witnesses or resource persons can still appear before the Senate inquiry even if a case is pending before the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan.
Napoles is the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam, which saw billions of pesos in priority development assistance funds being funneled to Napoles-owned fake NGOs. A total of 38 individuals linked to the scam are facing graft, plunder and malversation charges before the Ombudsman.