Ombudsman: I'm not challenging Senate's right to probe
MANILA - Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said she never challenged the right of the Senate to investigate the pork barrel scam involving businesswoman Janet Napoles and lawmakers.
In a letter addressed to Senate President Franklin Drilon, Morales said she is "not inclined to modify an earlier comment that it is not advisable at this time to issue a subpoena for Napoles.
However, she said: “That the Senate is supreme in its own sphere was never meant to be challenged. I thus submit to the collective wisdom of its members.”
Drilon sought anew Morales' comment after Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Teofisto Guingona III asked for a reconsideration of a decision not to summon Napoles.
Guingona questioned Drilon for his unreasonable treatment over Napoles’ case compared to that of the whistleblowers.
Via a subpoena, the whistleblowers appeared during the hearing on Thursday.
Guingona asked: “What is so confidential about Ms. Napoles' possible testimony that it cannot be made under oath before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee?”
Guingona said Morales’ earlier comment was only advisory in nature.
“We have to emphasize that the Ombudsman, in her letter, did not prohibit the Senate from calling Janet Lim-Napoles. While we respect the Ombudsman’s advise, we cannot follow it. The Senate is independent from the Ombudsman. The Senate is not bound by the advice of the Ombudsman,” Guingona said.
He cited a provision in the Constitution, which states the role of Congress in launching inquiries. “The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure. The rights of persons appearing in, or affected by, such inquiries shall be respected.”