MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Janet Lim Napoles arrived at the Senate shortly past 10 am Thursday, November 7, seeing for the first time since her detention her former employees who have all turned against her.
After conferring with her lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), Napoles asked for an executive session with the senators, or a closed-door hearing. The senators rejected It.
Wearing a bullet-proof vest and green blouse, Napoles arrived under heavy security following a road trip from Fort Sto Domingo, Sta Rosa, Laguna, where she is detained.
Among the whistle-blowers present at the Senate are Benhur Luy, Monet Briones, Marina Sula, Gertrudes Luy, Merlina Sunas, and Mary Arlene Baltazar.
Also present is Local Water Utilities Administration Chairman Rene Villa, an administration ally who admitted to lawyering for Napoles when he was out of government. Villa is a member of the ruling Liberal Party and a political ally of Senate President Franklin Drilon.
At least 10 senators were present as of 10:10 am: Drilon, senators Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito, Sonny Trillanes, Bam Aquino, Edgardo Angara, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Grace Poe.
Before the hearing started, Benhur Luy, the principal witness against and cousin of Napoles, made the sign of the cross as he took his seat.
In his opening statement, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Guingona urged Napoles to cooperate with the probe to “help the nation.”
Guingona said, “Gusto nating mabuo ang larawan paano napunta sa maduming kamay ang pera, at makagawa ng batas para di maulit. Ito ang pagkakataon ninyong sabihin kung totoo o hindi ang mga paratang ng whistleblowers, patunayan malasakit sa bayan.”
(We want to complete the picture on how the money went to dirty hands so we can craft laws to avoid this. This is your chance to address the allegations fo the whistleblowers and to prove your concern for the nation.)
Guingona said the committee is interested in finding out details about Napoles’ businesses, the creation of the alleged fake foundations, and her supposed transactions and dealings with entities and lawmakers, executive departments and “the manner by which proceeds are divided among the parties.”
Sen Jinggoy Estrada, who is in the US to accompany his wife for a medical check-up, earlier expressed doubts that Napoles would say anything in relation to the allegations hurled against her and lawmakers.
Napoles told Guingona she had no lawyer with her, and the senator said lawyers from the PAO were on hand to assist her. It was after meeting with her PAO counsels when Napoles asked for an executive session. – with reports from Ayee Macaraig/Rappler.com
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