MANILA, Philippines—“Eat, blank and die,” Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said, deleting an expletive from her own remark, when asked what she had to say to her fellow senators who, the witnesses in the scam said, disbursed their pork allocations through Janet Lim-Napoles’ bogus nongovernment organizations.
Santiago urged the government on Wednesday to start filing plunder charges against legislators involved in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Santiago is on a sick leave but attended the confirmation hearings of diplomats at the Commission on Appointments.
She decided against attending the Senate session in the afternoon but made her presence felt by lashing out at her colleagues who had been implicated in the pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Napoles.
Santiago called on the government to start filing plunder cases against the lawmakers involved in the scam.
Witnesses’ evidence strong
A former trial court judge, Santiago said the testimonies of the whistle-blowers constituted strong evidence.
“So no matter how many they are, the government must at least file criminal charges against them because the newspaper reports were based on affidavits executed by the eyewitnesses before the [National Bureau of Investigation],” Santiago told reporters.
“[The] strongest evidence for the prosecution or even for the defense is always a testimony of an eyewitness. These whistle-blowers, at least majority of them, appear to be eyewitnesses so that’s very, very strong,” she added.
Santiago said the Senate could afford to lose eight senators should they be sent to prison.
“Why do we need to be 24? It’s a question I ask myself very often. We can be [fewer] so long as (the total) is an odd number so that we can’t be even when voting,” she said.
Told that the Senate needs a two-thirds vote, or 16 affirmative votes, to ratify treaties, Santiago said, “So we can jail, 24 minus 16, we can jail eight.”
Santiago said she did not buy the talk that Napoles had no protector in the government.
She said Napoles would not have been so brazen if she had no one to run to who was influential.
If Napoles identifies her protectors in the government, she will no longer be the guiltiest and she can qualify as a state witness in the government’s case, Santiago said.