Revilla: It’s high time Napoles faces Senate
MANILA, Philippines – An unlikely senator backed calls for alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles to face the Senate.
Sen Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr, one of 3 senators facing a plunder complaint over the controversy, said the Senate should issue a subpoena to compel Napoles to appear in its probe.
In a rare interview, the actor-turned-politician told reporters he will vote for the issuance of the subpoena in a caucus moved to Wednesday, October 16. Revilla referred to Napoles by her nickname, Jenny.
“’Di ako natatakot kasi malinis ang konsensya ko,” Revilla said. “Siguro it's high time, magandang pumunta si Jenny Napoles nang lumabas ang katotohanan, matapos na ang gulong ito. Kung sino ang managot, dapat managot, kulong.”
(I am not afraid of her testimony because my conscience is clear. Maybe it’s high time and good for Jenny Napoles to come here so the truth will come out and this mess will end. Whoever is liable should be held accountable, should be sent to jail.)
Revilla and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada are accused of siphoning off their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to Napoles’ fake NGOs in exchange for kickbacks amounting to 50% of ghost projects. Of the 3, Revilla is accused of getting the biggest kickbacks.
Revilla said he was not afraid that Napoles will name names even if it was possible the administration struck a deal with her during her surrender.
“The truth will always come out, the truth will always prevail. Mas magandang lumabas na ang katotohanan para matapos na ang isyung ito dahil masyado nang madaming nadadamay, maraming pangalanang nadudurog at isa na ako doon.”
(It’s better for the truth to come out in this issue because so many people are implicated, so many names are destroyed and I am one of them.)
Asked about his lawyer’s plan to file counter-charges against the whistleblowers, Revilla said, “We heard what Benhur Luy said. He said he forged signatures. But just wait for our actions.”
Revilla said though that he will still inhibit himself if Napoles appears in the probe because he is one of those implicated. He reiterated his plea to the public.
“Sa mga kababayan natin, hayaan niyo po kaming ibigay ang side namin. Ako ay naniniwala na ‘di ko mararating ang kinalalagyan ko ngayon kung ‘di dahil sa mga taong nagmamahal sa akin at ‘di ko sila ibebenta. Ang tiwala at pagmamahal nila, ‘di ko po sisirain ‘yun.”
(To our fellow Filipinos, allow us to explain our side. I believe I would not have reached my stature now if not for the people who loved me and I will not sell them. Their trust and love, I will not destroy that.)
Why postpone the caucus?
Senate President Franklin Drilon has yet to face the media as of posting time. Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Teofisto “TG” Guingona III said he respects Drilon's decision but "I am firm on my stand that Napoles must appear at the Senate." They were two of the strongest voices in the subpoena issue.
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano explained why Drilon decided to postpone the caucus from Monday to Wednesday, even if only 5 senators were absent and there was still quorum.
Senators were set to discuss whether or not to subpoena Napoles.
“The issues and the consequences of the decision are so heavy. Remember that the caucus is not final. What is final is what’s discussed on the floor. If we hold a caucus today and then one or two members can change that decision, it will also reach the floor,” Cayetano told reporters.
Cayetano said besides Napoles, other issues to be discussed in the caucus are the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill and the abolition of the pork barrel.
“There’s a call not to hid or simply change the name of the pork barrel. The leadership of the Senate is aware that people want solutions on the issues about the use of public funds, how do we get rid of corruption by having mechanisms like FOI and answer satisfactorily the issues,” he said.
Cayetano said the majority has yet to reach a consensus about the Napoles subpoena. Drilon and Guingona strongly clashed on the issue, with Drilon refusing to sign the subpoena Guingona issued.
‘Senate should settle the issue’
The Senate minority expressed surprise at the cancellation of the caucus. The 6-member minority held its own caucus before the start of session on Monday. Enrile is the minority leader while Estrada is a member of the bloc.
Sen Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Sen Nancy Binay said it would have been better for the Senate to already decide on the Napoles issue, which has been debated for weeks now.
“It’s better we settle this issue soon, but that’s the call of the majority. We’re the minority. There’s nothing we can do,” said Sotto.
Binay said: “People are waiting. Today is the best day to discuss it, but apparently we are not complete.”
Sotto and Binay said the minority has yet to discuss whether or not to adopt a common stand on the issue.
Binay said she does not want the Senate to summon Napoles only if she will clam up, be held in contempt, and be detained in the Senate, which will be more comfortable than her cell in a Laguna police camp.
“We are waiting for the propositions of the Senate President. Of course, I want Napoles to come here, but we also have to be realistic that it’s likely she won’t say or admit anything. My concern is her safety and the cost of bringing her here and the security personnel,” Binay said. – Rappler.com