Senate puts off decision on whether to summon Napoles over ‘pork’ scam | Inquirer News

Senate puts off decision on whether to summon Napoles over ‘pork’ scam

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
/ 08:49 PM October 14, 2013

Janet Napoles. PHOTO courtesy of PNP-PIO and PNP-SAF photographers

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate put off on Monday a crucial caucus on whether to summon alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles to its inquiry into the P10-billion fund diversion, citing the absence of some senators.

While Senate leaders seemed to dilly-dally on the matter, Senator Ramon Revilla, one of three senators charged in connection with the scam, and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, were raring to have Napoles testify at the chamber.


“Let’s get to the truth,” an emotional Revilla told reporters.


On Monday, Senate President Franklin Drilon, through his chief of staff, advised his colleagues of the postponement of the caucus until Wednesday.

The reason cited by Drilon’s chief of staff Renato Bantug Jr. was the unavailability of some members “on account of sickness/official mission abroad.”

Santiago, who was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, and Senator Ralph Recto called in sick. Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV were on official mission abroad. Senator Lito Lapid was on official business.

Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said it would be important for all senators to be present because the vote on the matter could be close.

“So if we have a caucus later, and then there is one or there are two members that can change the decision, it could reach the floor,” he told reporters.

The issue of whether to subpoena Napoles has become a touchy issue in the Senate given revelations about the alleged involvement of some senators in the scam.


Drilon deferred to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who advised the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee against compelling Napoles to testify. But she later deferred to the senators’ “collective wisdom” to decide on the matter.

Morales, in a September 27 letter to Drilon, said she was standing by her earlier opinion that it would not be advisable for Napoles to appear in the Senate inquiry ahead of the hearing on a plunder complaint against her.

But Morales said she recognized the Senate’s authority, and deferred to the senators to decide on the matter.

“That the Senate is supreme in its own sphere was never meant to be challenged. I thus submit to the collective wisdom of its members,” she said in her letter to Drilon.

When the committee resumed its inquiry in late September, committee chair Senator Teofisto Guingona III castigated Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for not bringing in the whistle-blowers. De Lima said their appearance would preempt government arguments in the plunder complaint against Napoles.

At the Senate on Monday, Revilla said he would vote for the issuance of subpoena for Napoles, indicating her testimony would be key to getting to the bottom of the scam.

“It is high time for the truth to come out,” Revilla said, indicating he was unafraid of being dragged into the scam. “I’m not afraid because my conscience is clear.”

He said personalities found liable should be jailed.

In a statement, Santiago said she has changed her mind about not summoning Napoles and would vote for the issuance of subpoena for the jailed businesswoman.

Santiago said the Constitution has vested the Senate with the power to issue subpoenas for individuals.

“It might upset the delicate system of checks and balances if the Senate itself dilutes this power by seeking an external agency such as the Ombudsman, to express a legal opinion,” she said.

She said that if the Ombudsman issued an opinion that the chamber subpoena Napoles, it would “set a bad precedent.”

“It would constitute the concession by the Senate to an external agency to determine how we shall exercise our power.  On the other hand, if the Ombudsman opines that to issue subpoena would not be advisable, if we go ahead and issue the subpoena, then we show lack of comity (courtesy) to the Ombudsman,’’ she added.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said he would want to know from the proponents if they could guarantee Napoles’ presence and if she would speak the truth.

“What we can’t handle is if she comes here, and makes up a story,” he said.

Otherwise, those insisting on her testimony without such guarantee would only “grandstand,” he added.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Meanwhile, Santiago commented on the medical mission by the Iglesia ni Cristo in parts of Manila on Monday. “There is a message behind the INC event today. If you are a politician and you don’t get it, you are a fool.” She did not elaborate.

TAGS: Congress, PDAF, Plunder, Pork barrel, Ramon Revilla, Senate

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.