MANILA, Philippines—”Janet Bariles-Napoles” made a surprise appearance at the Senate Wednesday and took a swipe at those who have allegedly feasted on taxpayers’ money.
Actress and political satirist Mae Paner, aka Juana Change, playing the role of “Janet Bariles-Napoles” showed up Wednesday at a joint hearing of the Senate committees on public information, civil service, and finance on the proposed Freedom of Information bill.
She was apparently portraying the character of pork barrel scam suspect Janet Lim-Napoles, who is detained at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
“While I’m part of ‘Right to Know, Right Now,’ let me speak to you today as an artist,” Paner told the committees. “I wanna be Janet Bariles-Napoles this morning.”
“You know, I’m not in a comfortable place right now. It’s a good thing you allowed me to get out [of my detention cell],” she said, as she portrayed the real Napoles, who allegedly siphoned off P10 billion from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel into her bank accounts through bogus nongovernment organizations over the last 10 years.
“But you know I’m actually nervous because by BP (blood pressure) shoots up every day. They say 180 over acting,” she said.
“Now I was sent here for the FOI. I do not know what the FOI could do for me. Actually I know that there are honorable people in the government but the majority are crooks,” said “Bariles-Napoles”.
“In fact, I could name my cohorts [in the pork barrel scam] who are in this room now,” she said. “But no, not yet. This is not the right time to divulge their identity,” she added.
The Commission on Audit has said at least five senators instructed government agencies to release millions of pesos from their pork barrel funds to NGOs belonging to the Napoles group. The senators are Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr., Loren Legarda, and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
But Senator JV Ejercito, who was also present in the hearing, clarified that none of them present in the room were involved in the pork scam.
“None of us here were involved [in the scam],” said Ejercito, whose half-brother Jinggoy Estrada is being linked to the controversy.
“Bariles-Napoles” wondered whether Congress could actually pass the FOI bill. “The question is, can that be done?”
Senator Grace Poe, who presided over the hearing, thanked “Bariles-Napoles” for a comic relief.
And she said in jest: “We’re not able to taste the ‘pork’.”