Senate divided in granting Napoles immunity-A A +A
Thursday, October 24, 2013
SENATORS have yet to discuss whether they will grant businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles immunity during the Blue Ribbon committee investigation on the pork barrel scam.
Senator Francis Escudero insisted that Napoles should be treated fairly. He said, "No way to Napoles immunity."
Escudero said that granting such immunity to Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the multi-billion pork scam will never be an assurance that she will tell the truth.
Escudero argued that Napoles being the mastermind can be offered limited immunity but this might only create more confusion to the public and to the situation.
"Siya ang tagakumpas tapos siya pa ang magkakaroon ng immunity. Baka ang maiiwan sa kalaboso ay ang mga maliliit na isda," Escudero said.
Senate President Franklin Drilon, for his part, said Napoles' immunity is limited to what she will say in the hearing.
"But if there is any independent evidence outside of the hearing, she can still be charged criminally," Drilon said.
Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairperson of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, said they are still weighing things carefully on whether or not the immunity will work to convince Napoles to speak during the investigation.
Guingona said the Senate cannot grant immunity outside of its jurisdiction.
"Kapag immunity against criminal prosecution, wala na pong jurisdiction diyan ang senado. It is only the court that can decide when it comes to criminal issue," Guingona said.
Guingona also said that immunity is revocable.
"Because if Napoles will be granted immunity and then she will not tell the whole truth, then that immunity can be revoked," Guingona added.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said he will definitely go against the move to grant Napoles the immunity.
He said Napoles' immunity will be limited in the hearing but her case filed in court should be pursued.
Cayetano, who is also a lawyer, said that the less guilty in the case like the whistleblowers are the ones entitled to such privilege "but not the mastermind."
In a chance interview, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the Senate should make up its mind regarding the issue.
"Kailangan siguraduhin ng Senate ang posisyon nito sa possible na pag-grant ng immunity. Kung magbibigay ng immunity, dapat makatulong sa successful prosecution ng cases," she said.
De Lima has been opposed to the idea of granting immunity to Napoles, as this will allegedly affect the evaluation of pork barrel cases before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Napoles, who has been detained at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna for serious illegal detention of her cousin and whistleblower Benhur Luy, was invited by the Senate to appear before its own investigation into the pork barrel scam on November 7. (Camille P. Balagtas/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)