Napoles' Senate appearance depends on Makati court
MANILA, Philippines - Janet Lim-Napoles' appearance before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee will depend on the court hearing her case of serious illegal detention.
On Wednesday, Senate President Franklin Drilon announced his decision to sign the subpoena for the appearance of Napoles at the Senate, ahead of an all-senators’ caucus.
Blue Ribbon committee vice chairman Sen. Sergio Osmeña III said they still need to get the permission of the Makati Regional Trial Court for Napoles to appear and testify on the investigation on the pork barrel scam.
“We will send a letter to the court, asking its permission to let Napoles appear,” he said.
Osmeña said the Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms will deliver the subpoena to the court.
“We can’t subpoena the court,” he said. “The subpoena will be addressed to Napoles under pain of contempt.”
The court has custody over the person of Napoles, who is detained at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, Osmeña said.
The Makati court issued the warrant of arrest against Napoles on serious illegal detention charges. It had ordered her transferred to Fort Sto. Domingo from the Makati City Jail.
Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Jose Balajadia said his office is ready to serve the subpoena once they receive it.
They will have to coordinate with police on the matter, he added.
Osmeña said the Senate might hold the hearing at Fort Sto. Domingo or a secured place, wherever it may be, if the court would not accede to the Senate request.
“I don’t see any reason for the court to prevent her from appearing,” he said. “The court has the power over her.”
Osmeña said technically, the court may disallow Napoles from attending the Blue Ribbon committee hearing. “In my understanding, the court has custody and the court can find a reason... it may endanger her life, but they have to give a good reason,” he said. “In which case, if that happens, we will conduct it (hearing) in her detention quarters.”
Osmeña said the court must find a good reason to stop Napoles from testifying at the Senate, “otherwise we can bring it to a higher court.”
Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara believes the subpoena must be addressed to the court, not the custodian.
A lawyer, Angara warned Napoles of the consequences if she would violate the subpoena.
Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he is ready to cooperate and support efforts to ferret out the truth about the pork barrel scam. He is optimistic that his name will eventually be cleared after he was identified as one of the lawmakers who might have misused his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) from 2011 to 2012.
Marcos was asked to explain why the P10 million in PDAF that he had allocated for Pilar and Dinalupihan municipalities in Bataan had been released to the People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation, Inc. (PODDF). – With Paolo Romero, Aurea Calica