Drilon urged anew to summon Napoles in ‘pork’ probe-A A +A
Thursday, September 26, 2013
SENATOR Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Blue Ribbon committee probing the pork barrel scam, on Thursday asked Senate President Franklin Drilon to rethink his decision regarding the unsigned subpoena for alleged mastermind Janet Napoles.
In a letter, Guingona asked the Senate President to respond in three days although he clarified in a news conference that it was not an ultimatum.
Drilon followed the advice of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to withhold Napoles' appearance in the hearing, saying this may prejudice the resolution of cases before the anti-graft body.
Guingona found Drilon's explanation without legal basis as he wondered why the request to subpoena Napoles must be treated differently from the six whistleblowers present on Thursday's hearing.
"Caution, timing, and prudence should not be used to diminish and destroy the constitutional power of the Senate to conduct investigations in aid of legislation. The Senate's power has been upheld by the Supreme Court in several cases," said Guingona.
Guingona's position was supported by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, saying the Senate should not risk destroying itself.
"What will wreck the Senate as an institution is when it surrenders its constitutional right to investigate in aid of legislation. It is nothing less than act of decapitation by the Senate on itself. For the Senate to self-destruct is the greatest tragedy of the PDAF (priority development assistance fund) scandal," said Puno.
Puno said Congress' right to probe in aid of legislation can only be limited by a "more superior" constitutional right such as right against self-incrimination and certain executive privileges.
Thus, the provision of the Ombudsman Act, which bars public disclosure of pending cases should not be invoked as an excuse for not summoning Napoles.
If she had her way, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima would not have exposed the whistleblowers to the public, citing risks to their safety. The subpoena forced her to bring them to the Senate.
Present at the hearing were Benhur Luy, his mother Gertrudes Luy, Merlina Suñas, Arlene Baltazar, Marina Sula and Monette Briones. (Virgil Lopez/CPT/Sunnex)