Senators divided over subpoena for Napoles
MANILA – Senators are divided on whether or not to summon Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam, to the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing.
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said unlike the whistleblowers, it may not be proper for Napoles to testify in the Senate considering that she has yet to submit her affidavits on the case.
He said the reason for summoning Napoles now is for her to admit to the allegations.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Senate President Franklin Drilon said he will not approve a subpoena for Napoles after receiving a letter from the Office of the Ombudsman. In her letter, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales only said “it would not be advisable, at this time, for Ms. Napoles to testify before the said Committee on ‘what she knows’ about the alleged scam.”
Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Teofisto “TG” Guingona questioned this move, after Drilon signed subpoenas for the whistleblowers.
He said this “unreasonable treatment” raises the obvious question: “What is so confidential about Ms. Napoles' possible testimony that it cannot be made under oath before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee?”
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero agreed with Guingona, saying the Ombudsman should not have the sole right to Napoles' testimony.
He said the provisions of the 'Ombudsman Act' only apply when the anti-graft body has launched its preliminary investigation into the case.
He said it is not for the Ombudsman to decide what proceedings are in aid of legislation.
Senate deputy minority leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, for his part, said he is neutral on the issue. He said, however, that Napoles can still be summoned for as long as the purpose of her testimony is “in aid of legislation.”
He said he just doesn’t want the hearing to become a spectacle similar to what happened during Napoles’ arraignment at the Makati Regional Trial court on Monday. – with ANC