MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Senate has issued a subpoena summoning alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles to testify before the chamber’s blue ribbon committee on November 7.
The subpoena was signed by Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senator Teofisto Guingona III on Monday, October 21. It called on Napoles to appear and testify at the Senate blue ribbon committee on November 7, a Thursday, at 10 am.
If she attends, Napoles will come face to face with the whistleblowers in the pork barrel scam: Benhur Luy, gertrudes Luy, Marina Sula, Merlina Suña, Mary Arlene Baltazar, and Simonette Briones.
The whistleblowers were also issued subpoenas by the committee Monday.
The subpoena issuing Janet Napoles to appear and testify at the Senate on November 07, 10AM has been signed. pic.twitter.com/iEY6c5H2pa— Franklin Drilon (@frankahan) October 21, 2013
Drilon earlier said he will sign the subpoena for Napoles, which preempted a scheduled Senate caucus last Wednesday, October 16.
Guingona, in a press conference at the Senate, said the hearing was scheduled November 7 so that they could “concentrate [their] efforts on the relief of the victims of the disaster in Bohol and Cebu,” as well as the upcoming barangay elections on October 27.
“If the court disallows [Napoles’ appearance], they better have a very, very good reason to do so because right now I cannot think of any reason why the court will not allow Janet Napoles to come to the Senate,” Guingona said.
Napoles could also be summoned in future sessions, Guingona added, but he said it would be better if she would appear only once “because of the amount of coordination involved.”
Will Estrada attend?
Asked if he would attend the November 7 hearing, Senator Jinggoy Estrada told reporters: “Well, let’s see but I already inhibited myself from the proceedings….It would be difficult for me because I was one of those who were implicated in this alleged scam. So it might be self-serving.”
Estrada said that he will “fight it out in court” since he has “nothing to hide.” According to him, the minority bloc in the Senate would conduct a meeting on the matter.
Senator Nancy Binay, another member of the minority bloc, said: “Like everyone else I just want to know the truth. We don’t want another circus and it would be a big help if she would provide us info on how everything started and answer all the issues behind the PDAF scam. I just hope that she doesn’t stonewall the truth by invoking her right [against] self incrimination.”
On the other hand, administration ally Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said: “As one of the main suspects, it is improbable that she will come clean and implicate herself and her cohorts. But I am still hoping that she will speak the truth and shed light on the PDAF scam rather than serve to confuse matters further.”
As early as September 23, the Senate blue ribbon committee, chaired by Guingona, had wanted to summon Napoles. The committee is investigating the widespread misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), where a number of senators, congressmen, and government officials have been implicated.
The Senate President’s signature is needed before a committee can send out a subpoena. Instead of immediately signing it, Drilon wrote Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales twice to ask for her opinion on the matter, earning him criticisms from colleagues.
The subpoena was signed only Monday because of Drilon was one of the officials who accompanied President Aquino to his state visit to South Korea last Thursday and Friday (October 17 and 18).
Napoles is currently detained at Fort Sto Domingo in Sta Rosa, Laguna, in connection with an illegal detention case involving whistleblower Benhur Luy. – Rappler.com