MANILA, Philippines – Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago on Wednesday, September 4, backed the filing of criminal charges against senators linked to the pork barrel scam, and agreed that the alleged mastermind, Janet Lim-Napoles, can turn into a state witness.
She also told senators allegedly involved: “Die! That’s my advice. Eat, blank, and die!”
In a press conference, Santiago said whistleblowers’ testimonies before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) can support criminal charges against the senators.
“No matter how many they are, government must, at least, file criminal charges against them, because the newspaper reports were based on affidavits executed by eyewitnesses before the NBI. That constitutes evidence already,” the senator said.
Santiago, a former trial court judge, said eyewitness testimony is “very, very strong.” “Their testimony has very strong weight in the law on evidence.” (Watch more in the video below.)
The Commission on Audit (COA) has found that at least 5 senators, among 192 lawmakers, have allegedly misused their pork barrel.
In a report covering 2007 to 2009, the COA discovered that allocations under the names of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, and Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr and Jinggoy Estrada repeatedly went to 3 to 8 non-government organizations that Napoles runs.
COA chair Grace Pulido-Tan last Thursday, August 29, said two more senators allegedly misused their pork barrel. She declined to identify them, however, pending the release of a new COA report.
‘Most expensive handbag’
In her press conference, Santiago also said she is open to turning Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam, into a state witness.
Santiago earlier dismissed this possibility, because she “will find it extremely difficult to prove her claim that she is not the most guilty.”
Santiago, however, said Napoles can become state witness if she can identify the real masterminds, or her supposed protectors.
If that happens, Santiago said: “‘Yan, good girl!” (There, good girl!)
“If she does that, I will agree that she will no longer be the most guilty. But so far, in the hands of the Department of Justice, in particular the NBI, we have no such evidence,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.
She added Napoles shouldn’t simply regurgitate information from whistleblowers. “Give me additional information,” she said.
For now, Santiago said, she is more interested to hear from whistleblowers, not from Napoles.
But in case Napoles testifies, Santiago wants to ask her this: “Anong pinakamahal na handbag?” (What’s the most expensive handbag?)
Eliciting laughter, Santiago explained: “Alam niya eh. That is a technique in cross examination – put the witness at ease. Eh kung takutin mo kaagad, eh ninerbyusin ‘yon. Magtataas ng blood pressure, uuwi ‘yon. Make her feel at home.” (She knows it… If you scare her at first, she’ll be nervous. Her blood pressure will shoot up, and she will go home. Make her feel at home.)
‘Harakiri’ for Congress
Santiago said the pork barrel scam can fuel public discontent. She explained that if legislators involved do not face charges or get detained, “it will show that we senators are a special breed.”
She added that “saboteurs” and “provocateurs” can take advantage of the issue, to destabilize the Aquino administration.
Santiago joked it’s an issue that has made her contemplate suicide, especially during her weeks-long absence due to chronic fatigue. She said she monitors the issue on TV.
The senator said: “In my case at home when I’m watching, I order my house help, will you buy me a vial of poison? Will you prepare a necktie for me? Will you please prepare a piece of rope for me? Or otherwise just put off the TV. I want to die.” (Watch more in the video below.)
In her press conference, Santiago was also asked for advice for other lawmakers, those not involved in the pork barrel scam.
“Abolish Congress,” a laughing Santiago said. “Commit mass harakiri (suicide). We owe it to the Filipino people.” – Rappler.com