- Posted October 24, 2013 by
Will Phl scam queen speak the truth?
The Makati Regional Trial Court (MRTC) has allowed Janet Lim-Napoles, suspected mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam in Manila, to appear before the Senate blue ribbon committee on November 7.
As the date draws near, political observers say lawmakers linked to the multibillion fund mess are now in haste looking for possible escape route should Napoles drag them to the controversy.
The justice department has already named former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile, Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada respondents to plunder charges it filed before the Ombudsman.
Estrada has earlier expressed fears that might implicate him in the anomaly through the dictate of certain unscrupulous elements.
Although he did not identify who these elements are, Estrada described the group as “powerful” that could influence Napoles what to reveal or conceal during the investigation.
The son of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada stressed he has "no issue" with regards to Napoles’ surrender to President Benigno Aquino III in the evening of August 7.
Aquino put a P10 million bounty on Napoles’ head after she eluded arrest in connection with a serious illegal detention case filed against her by whistleblower Benhur Luy.
For her part, Sen. Miriam Santiago said Napoles would not have the guts to do what she did if she did not have a powerful person backing her up.
She said that although Napoles was the key to determine who her ‘protector’ was, she had enough evidence from whistleblowers who could serve as eye-witnesses.
“I don’t need Napoles to convict senators and congressman, if she testifies against them all the better,” Santiago said.
She explained that Napoles could not be state witness because that would make her automatically acquitted, but if in any case she can identify who were protectors were -- she will no longer be considered most guilty.
However, Santiago said that Napoles will still be compelled to drop names because to defend herself “because she’s not going to willingly go to jail for the rest of her life,” adding that there was still a possibility that she be charged for plunder because she is involved in a conspiracy.
When Napoles appears to be cross examined, Santiago said that the first question she would ask her is: “What is the most expensive handbag?”
“That is the technique in cross examination — put the witness at ease, if you scare her right away she’ll be nervous, her blood pressure will rise, she’ll go home,” a laughing Santiago said.
Meanwhile, Senator Teofisto Guingona III, blue ribbon committee chair, said he was pleased with the decision made by MRTC Judge Elmo Alameda.
Guingona said since the MRTC has the custody over Napoles over illegal detention charges, the Senate requested its permission to allow her to appear.
Napoles is currently detained at the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
In a statement, Guingona said it was “a big issue in the country” and that he saw no reason why they would not allow her presence at the Senate.
“With the court’s order for Janet Lim-Napoles to appear before the Senate blue ribbon committee, we are now much closer to completing the whole story on the abuses done with the Priority Development Assistance Fund,” he said.
When asked to what extent Napoles would be allowed to invoke self-incrimination, Guingona said that she will only be allowed to use it per question.
“Every time you ask a question, she can invoke her right. But it has to be something you can incriminate her,” Guingona said.
Guingona added he will not agree in case Napoles' camp would request for an executive session instead of a public hearing.
He also clarified that he is amenable to have Napoles appear before the Senate only once.
"I'd like to think that because of the amount of coordination involved, it might be better just to have her once here," he said.
Guingona said Napoles is expected to appear before the Senate along with pork barrel scam whistleblowers "so we can have a system of checks and balances, and whatever is stated can be validated or repudiated."
The senator said security should not be a problem because the PNP is expected to do its job of making the necessary steps to secure Napoles.
If all goes as planned, Napoles will get to face the whistleblowers including her former aide Benhur Luy.
"So we can have a system of cross checks and balances. Whatever stated can be validated or not by the whistle-blowers," said Guingona.
He added that there will be no conditions such as "not naming names." He said Napoles is expected to bare all during her testimony.
Subpoenas were also sent to whistleblowers Gertrudes Luy, Marina Sula, Merlina Suña, Mary Arlene Balatazar and Simonette Briones to appear before the Senate at the same time and date.
“Mrs. Napoles will be given the opportunity to come clean and speak the truth,” Guingona said. “The Filipino people will be watching. We will be ready.”