Drilon decides to sign Napoles subpoena
MANILA, Philippines – Amid criticisms, Senate President Franklin Drilon announced on Wednesday his decision to sign the subpoena for Janet Lim-Napoles.
“I have decided to sign the subpoena requested by Senator Teofisto Guingona to require Janet Lim-Napoles to appear before the Senate blue ribbon committee,” Drilon said when he took the floor immediately after the chamber opened its session past 3 pm.
Guingona is chairman of the blue ribbon committee investigating the alleged P10-billion “pork barrel” scam.
Drilon’s decision was a turnaround of his previous position to defer to the advice of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales that it would not be advisable at this point to subpoena Napoles into the Senate probe on the P10-billion “pork barrel” scam.
It was the Senate leader who sought the advice of the Ombudsman and when Guingona requested him to reconsider his decision, Drilon decided to leave it to his colleagues in the chamber to decide on the matter.
The senators were expected to meet and decide in a caucus whether or not to subpoena Napoles until Drilon took the floor and announced his decision.
In his collective and personal privilege, Drilon lamented how he was criticized and “vilified” in the media when he did not sign the subpoena.
“It is unfortunate that my decision to adhere to the advice of Ombudsman Morales — to which I concurred at that time was the more prudent and responsible action to take to, ensure an orderly administration of justice — has been misconstrued as an effort to hide the truth,” he said.
“The public criticism that came our way has undoubtedly injured the image of the Senate before a public hungry to see Napoles being grilled in the Senate Halls.”
He said his decision to defer the signing of the Napoles subpoena had been used by certain members of the opposition as an opportunity to blockthe government’s anti-corruption reforms and conduct a media vilification campaign against him and the Aquino administration.”
“As the head of this institution, I must lead in restoring the confidence of our people in the Senate,” Drilon said.
“All my life, I have always adhered to the rule of law. All my life, it has always been about justice. As a former Justice Secretary, I have always believed in the paramount pursuit of justice.”
That was why, he said, he was “appalled” that there were talks of cover-up.
“Mr President, I have never been a part of any cover-up and I will never be,” he said.
Saying that the “pork barrel” scam was a “great injustice” to the Filipino people, Drilon promised that “no stone will be left unturned in enacting policy changes that will guarantee that this multi-billion pesos scam will never ever happen again.”
“Certainly, in this unprecedented case where even members of the Senate are allegedly involved, we will not shirk from our responsibility,” he further said.
Senator Jose “Jinggoy’ Estrada, who was among those charged with plunder at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the pork scam, immediately stood up and expressed his support for Drilon’s decision.
“I’d like to commend the Senate President for his decision to sign the subpoena for Ms. Janet Lim-Napoles to appear before the Senate blue ribbon committee. ‘I’m in support of the decision of the Senate President,” Estrada said.
“As you very well know, I’m one of those senators implicated in this pork barrel scam together with Senators Revilla and Enrile and we ought to know the truth. And I hope if Ms. Napoles will be summoned by the Senate and if she appears before the Senate blue ribbon committee, I hope she will tell the truth,” he added.
Revilla is Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. while Enrile is Minority Leader Juan Ponce-Enrile, who were also charged with plunder along with Estrada for allegedly funnelling their priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel” funds to dummy non-government organizations linked to Napoles.
Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, a member of the opposition bloc, also stood up on the floor to express his group’s support for Napoles subpoena.
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