Right vs self-incrimination not a blanket shield for Napoles—legislator
MANILA, Philippines—Businesswoman Janet Napoles cannot invoke her right to protect herself from self-incrimination as a “blanket protection” against all kinds of questions, according to Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares.
Colmenares contended that the Senate could force Napoles to answer questions posed to her when she appears at its November 7 hearing, if the questions do not deal with a crime.
He said the Supreme Court had ruled in several instances that the right against self-incrimination has to be invoked for each question, and used as a shield against all queries.
“Since being in a picture is not a criminal act, she has to answer questions about her picture taken with the President and some senators. She cannot claim the right if the question only deals with facts and who among top government officials she is friendly with and for how long,” Colmenares said in a statement.
Napoles has been at the center of a pork barrel controversy where funds allotted for lawmakers’ pet projects were allegedly diverted to private pockets using her supposed network of fake non-government organizations.
The alleged scam was disclosed by Napoles’ former employees, who also alleged that Napoles had gotten hold of Malampaya funds using a similar scheme.
Colmenares also said Napoles’ testimony could also clear up issues surrounding the use of the Malampaya fund if senators would pursue this line of questioning.
“Her testimony could shed light to many issues including the P900 million anomaly in the Malampaya funds if only the Senators will actively pursue the genuine search for the truth in the pork barrel scam,” he said.
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