Napoles lied, says Alan Cayetano
Senators are demanding that Janet Lim-Napoles be haled to court for lying and thrown in a regular jail.
Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday asked the Senate blue ribbon committee not only to cite Napoles in contempt, but file perjury charges against her for lying at a formal inquiry.
Since she did not come clean on the pork barrel scam while enjoying VIP treatment in a police camp, the Department of Justice should also consider moving her to a regular jail, Sen. Francis Escudero said.
“It’s clear she was lying and acted guilty,” Cayetano told reporters.
In Thursday’s hearing on the scam, Napoles may have perjured herself when she disclaimed knowledge of the pork barrel even as documents showed she did, Cayetano said.
“None at all,” Napoles said when Cayetano asked her if she had any dealings involving the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the official name of the pork barrel.
While grilling Napoles, Cayetano produced documents showing that she wrote then Agriculture Secretary Domingo Panganiban in March 2006 to certify the purchase of liquid fertilizers for the whole year of 2004 by her company, Jo-Chris Trading, which was paid for by the lawmakers’ PDAF.
Napoles said she could not recall writing such a letter to Panganiban, adding that if this were covered by a pending case against her, she was invoking her right against self-incrimination.
“When the fertilizer fund scam was stinking, she distanced herself from it. Now that the PDAF controversy has cropped up, she claims she has no recollection about it,” Cayetano said.
It is the duty of the blue ribbon committee to file perjury charges in court against Napoles, on top of citing her in contempt, Cayetano said.
Evidence of perjury
The committee could submit Napoles’ letter to Panganiban and the video of her denial during the hearing as evidence for the perjury charges, he said.
While the penalty for perjury is relatively light (four months and one day to two years and four months), she could face several years in prison once charged and found guilty of several counts of perjury, the senator said.
“It’s becoming ordinary for anyone to lie before the Senate. So the committee should look not only at citing her in contempt, but filing perjury charges against her,” he said. “This will become a deterrent, and fast-track investigations of anomalies.”
In a radio interview, blue ribbon committee chair Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said the committee would study the transcripts to consider the filing of perjury charges.
In the nearly five-hour long hearing on Thursday, Napoles was peppered with questions about her key role in the scam and her ties with lawmakers, but dodged them by invoking her right against self-incrimination and claiming she had no knowledge or no recollection of them.
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago even coaxed her into telling the truth before she gets assassinated, but she did not waver.
It was Benhur Luy and her former employees-turned-whistle-blowers who gave damning testimonies on the percentage of kickbacks pocketed by three senators and lawmakers out of their PDAF allocations, and personally picked up by their staff.
Escudero himself acknowledged that Napoles was very wily to dodge the senators’ questions.
But he urged the DOJ to consider moving her to a regular jail from her detention center inside Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
“The government should ask the DOJ to put her in an ordinary jail. We should not spend for her security since she’s going to deny [accusations] anyway,” he said in a TV public affairs program.
Escudero noted that the Philippine National Police spent P150,000 to transport her from the police camp to the Senate for the hearing.
Cayetano agreed with Escudero’s proposal, and wondered whether the circumstances that prompted her detention at the police training camp were still present.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.