Senate 'clowns' might spoil probe - Miriam
MANILA - Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago on Thursday weighed in on the issue of inviting businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry to shed light on the pork barrel scam.
Speaking to ANC's Headstart, Santiago said she does not believe the Senate will get anything from Napoles judging by her own answers during an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
"Ano mapapala natin kay Napoles? Dahil mayroon isang dyaryo na nakakuha ng scoop dahil nagpunta siya mismo sa opisina ng dyaryo at nagpa-interview doon, hoping that she could get her side in. But you can see from the transcript that the newspaper published verbatim, word for word, that all they got was outrage. Like, stop taking my picture. That's the wrong angle. It's not worth it because she will simply say I invoke my constitutional right to self-incrimination," she said.
Santiago said the right against self-incrimination cannot be used as an excuse by Napoles to appear before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry on the pork scam.
She also said it is the Blue Ribbon that will decide whether she will be incriminating herself or not.
The senator said if Napoles refuses to answer the senators' questions, she might see herself incarcerated in the Senate instead of Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. "She'll only be transferring from Laguna to the Senate," she said.
Napoles is accused of masterminding the pork barrel scam, which allegedly saw billions of pesos in priority development assistance funds funneled to fake NGOs set up Napoles.
At least 38 individuals including Napoles are facing plunder, graft and malversation charges before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the scam.
The businesswoman is currently incarcerated in Fort Sto. Domingo due to a serious illegal detention case filed by whistle-blower Benhur Luy.
Santiago earlier nixed a proposal to tap Napoles as a state witness, saying that she is not the least guilty in the pork scam.
Drilon should have signed subpoena
In the interview, Santiago said she does not agree with the decision of Senate President Franklin Drilon not to sign the subpoena for Napoles to appear before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.
Drilon earlier refused to sign the subpoena upon the advice of the Ombudsman and then left the decision to his fellow senators
Santiago said Drilon should not have asked the Ombudsman in the first place if inviting Napoles to the Senate was a good idea.
"if I were asked to sign a subpoena and the reasons given by the chairman of the committee requesting for the subpoena are valid with respect to his committee, then I would have signed it. I wouldn't have referred it to somebody else. That is a watering down, a diminution of the power of the legislative. Why do you have to go to the Ombudsman and ask: 'Can we do this?' E ngayon sinabi niya hindi and then you disregard it, what were you asking her for? Why were you asking her in the first place? She is not the arbiter of the legislative's power to issue a subpoena," she said.
The senator said that when her colleagues come back from a break, she plans to lecture them on the legislative's power to subpoena. She said there are Supreme Court decisions backing the Senate's power to summon individuals to congressional inquiries.
She said that while the Senate has the power to issue subpoenas, "we must be prepared that we're not going to get anywhere except that we'll see a number of clowns in the Senate trying to create drama out of the situation."
"I would like to call them the drama kings because there are so many men there but instead I prefer to call them drama queens of the Senate," she added.