With or without lawyer, Napoles must appear in Senate—Drilon
MANILA, Philippines—Detained Janet Lim-Napoles may reject the legal services of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) but with or without lawyers, she must appear in the Senate on Thursday to testify on the alleged P10 billion “pork barrel” scam, Senate President Franklin Drilon said.
Under the rules of procedure, Drilon said an accused has the right to choose her own lawyers.
So while Napoles may reject the legal assistance that PAO will provide, she could not use it as an excuse not to appear and testify in the Senate hearing, the Senate leader said.
“Tama. Pwede niyang tanggihan ang PAO lawyers. Pero hindi pwedeng hindi siya pumunta (That’s correct. She may reject the PAO lawyers. But she should be there)” he told reporters on Wednesday.
Asked if Napoles could still be questioned in the Senate even if she appears without a counsel, Drilon said: “Pwedeng tanungin sya pero pwede rin niyang sabihin na hindi ko po masagot dahil wala akong abogado (She can be questioned but she can also say that she can’t answer because she has no lawyer).
Asked again if the Senate would give Napoles time to find her own lawyers, the Senate leader said the Senate blue ribbon committee would have to discuss the matter first.
Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the scam, was expected to appear before the committee when it resumes its session at 10 a.m. on Thursday.
It would be the first time that Napoles, who has been detained for serious illegal detention of her cousin and whistle-blower Benhur Luy, would appear and testify on the “pork barrel” scam.
Aside from Napoles, Luy and other whistle-blowers in the scam were also invited to appear in the hearing.