MANILA, Philippines– “Ano ang pinakamahal na handbag?” (What is the most expensive handbag?)
This was the first question that Senator Miriam Defensor- Santiago would like to ask Janet Lim-Napoles when she faces the “pork barrel” scam investigation in the Senate.
Santiago, at a press conference in the Senate on Wednesday, said she would only attend the Senate probe if Napoles and the whistleblowers in the alleged P10 billion “pork barrel” funds scam will show up at the hearing.
Santiago has been on sick leave due to chronic fatigue syndrome but she showed up this Wednesday to preside over a hearing of the Commission on Appointments committee on foreign affairs.
On Thursday, the Senate blue ribbon committee headed by Senator Teofisto Guingona III will resume its investigation into the alleged misuse of priority development assistance fund (PDAF) involving some senators and congressmen who have allegedly funnelled the funds to fake non-government organizations created by Napoles.
But if the hearing would be just a continuation of the Commission on Audit chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan’s testimony, then Santiago said she would just rather listen to her, saying there was “no pint” to cross-examine her.
“Why will I cross-examine an official of the government appointed precisely to act as watch dog over the use of government fund.. There’s no point. Malilito lang sya, manerbyos pa (She might get confused and get nervous),” she said.
“I want to be present if Janet Napoles is allowed by court to be present and if the whistleblowers who have executed affidavits are present because then I will try and cross examine to verify whether their accounts are true or not,” she added.
Asked then what would be her first question when she faces Napoles in the Senate, Santiago said: “Ano ang pinakamahal na handbag? Alam n’ya e (What is the most expensive handbag? She knows it).”
“That’s the technique in cross-examination. Put a witness at ease. E kung tanungin mo kung agad, e di nerbyusin yun, magtatas ng blood pressure uuwi yun (If you will ask tough question right away she would become nervous, the blood pressure would go up, then she would be excused),” Santiago said followed by a hearty laugh.
But asked whom would she prefer to see in the witness stand, the senator chose the whistleblowers over Napoles.
“The whistleblowers because there’s enough evidence there. I don’t need Janet-Napoles,” Santiago said but she later clarified what she intends to do.
“We don’t need Napoles to convict the senators or the congressmen. If she testifies against them, all the better,” she further said.
Originally posted at 1:17 p.m.