De Lima to Senate: Wait for proper time to get Napoles list

Buena Bernal
De Lima to Senate: Wait for proper time to get Napoles list
The justice secretary acknowledges the Senate's power to compel the release of the list of lawmakers involved in the pork barrel scam

MANILA, Philippines – A tug-of-war between the executive and the legislative branches of government may ensue over whether to release the list of lawmakers that alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles has implicated in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), which holds Napoles’ list, said it would appeal to the Senate should the chamber compel it to disclose the list. The Senate has yet to make the compulsion, though, with only select senators calling for the full disclosure of the list so far. (READ: Senators to Napoles: Face us, name names)

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima admitted on Monday, May 5, that the Senate has the power to compel the release of the list as part of its power to conduct formal inquiries or investigations in aid of legislation, confirming a claim made by Senate President Franklin Drilon.

“By law and Constitution, yes, the Senate can compel me to disclose the list, under pain of contempt. But I will appeal to them to wait for the proper time and give me enough space to discharge my mandated tasks with utmost responsibility,” De Lima said in a text message.

Watch this report below.

 

Napoles met with De Lima on the evening of April 21, promising to tell everything she knew of the illegal diversion of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus non-governmental organizations she owned or was associated with.

During their meeting, Napoles submitted to De Lima her first documented statement, detailing what she knew of the corruption scandal and a list of names of people she has transacted with over the years.

While Napoles appeared in a Senate hearing on the scam on November 7, she repeatedly invoked her right to remain silent. She also refused to file a counter-affidavit during the probe into the plunder case she faces.

Whistleblowers write to De Lima

In a letter to De Lima submitted Monday, the Whistle Blowers Association of the Philippines requested that the affidavit of Napoles and the list of other alleged PDAF scam participants be made public. 

Signed by former whistleblowers in seperate corruption scandals Sandra Cam and Melchor Magdama, the letter referred to De Lima as “the Annointed One of your Boss” and challenged her to “implement justice without fear or favor and equally to all.”

Cam and Magdama invoked the “right of the people to information on matters of public concern” as outlined in Article 3, Section 7, of the Philippine Constitution. 

“The WPP (Witness Protection Program) must not be a vehicle for demonizing political foes…. Some recent whistleblowers plundered billions and blow the whistle only after when there is nothing left anymore to plunder,” the letter read. 

Responding to the request, De Lima stood firm on the agreement between the DOJ and Napoles’ camp to keep mum on the content of Napoles’ testimony until it is fully validated by the justice department.

“I already said that I cannot be pressured to release the list at this point. I will do so in due time, i.e., upon completion of the Napoles statement and the vetting process,” De Lima maintained.

The #ScrapPork network, a civil society group formed months after the PDAF corruption scandal broke out, is set to file a similar letter on Tuesday, May 6, asking the DOJ to make the list public. 

Controversial list

The list of names implicated by Napoles has quickly become the subject of speculation and concern among lawmakers, with most of them crying black propaganda.

With Drilon demanding that the list be released only when compelling paper trail backs it up, De Lima reassured the public that Napoles indeed preserved documentary evidence.

De Lima earlier said there is no conflict so far between the testimony of Napoles and the whistleblowers. She added that there might be details about the scam only known to Napoles, making her testimony crucial in putting together the bigger picture.

The DOJ team has since returned for a followup session with Napoles to validate and get more of her testimony. (READ: DOJ: Napoles’ full written testimony will dispel fears)

Napoles faces plunder charges over the PDAF scam, an illegal detention case involving pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy, and a property forfeiture case over the assets she allegedly acquired through the scam.

If admitted as a state witness, she will be immune from criminal prosecution only on the case over the illegal diversion of lawmaker’s PDAF. – Rappler.com

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