Senate rejects Napoles' request to reset hearing-A A +A
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- Businesswoman Janet Napoles on Tuesday failed to convince the Senate to reset the hearing on the alleged pork barrel scam because of lack of lawyer.
Napoles' legal counsel Lorna Kapunan resigned last week over differences in strategy in her serious illegal detention case pending with the Makati Regional Trial Court branch 150.
While she did not want to disobey the Senate order for her to appear on Thursday, Napoles said there should be lawyer that would protect her rights during the hearing.
"Sa kasalukuyan po ay ginagawa ko ang lahat ng pamamaraan upang makakuha ng tulong at serbisyong legal para mapangalagaan ang aking mga karapatang pangtao, lalo na bilang isang nasasakdal, hindi lamang sa isipan ng sambayanan, kundi higit sa kapulungang ito, pati na sa mga korte," said Napoles in a letter to Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairperson of the Senate blue ribbon committee.
Guingona, however, said the committee decided to push through with the hearing.
"We regret to inform you that your request is denied. Please be informed that the said hearing will proceed as scheduled. Rest assured that the committee has made the necessary arrangement with the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) to provide you with lawyers during the hearing," Blue Ribbon Oversight Office Management Director Rodolfo Noel Quimbo said in response to Napoles letter.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano said Napoles is employing delaying tactics.
The senator reminded Napoles that the argument she used in asking for a possible postponement is not acceptable considering that the right to counsel, which Napoles invoked, according to Cayetano, "is not absolute under the law and her right to counsel of her choosing is limited."
"I call on Ms. Napoles to stop employing delaying tactics and to cease from making a fool out of the Filipino people. I encourage her to tell all on November 7 and clear her conscience once and for all," Cayetano said. "She knows the truth. And it is time to answer questions and tell the whole truth."
PAO Chief Persida Acosta on Tuesday assigned senior lawyers Marlon Buan, Howard Areza and Analisa Soriano to assist Napoles in her appearance before the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on November 7.
Earlier, Guingona also turned down Senator Sergio Osmena III's suggestion to move the hearing at the resumption of session on November 18 in consideration of senators who are still on vacation.
Those senators who are still out of the country are senators Vicente Sotto III, Grace Poe, Ralph Recto, and Senator Jinggoy Estrada. Estrada, however, assured that he will be back in the country on November 17.
Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate nixed Osmena's proposal, saying the possible deferment of Napoles' testimony will only fan the frustrations of the public.
Guingona said the testimony of Napoles will help in supplying the missing pieces in the puzzle and answer questions on the alleged collusion among the culprits in the anomalous funneling of the lawmakers' pork barrel funds.
The committee chair said it will also shed light on many unanswered questions such as her ties with public officials including senators and congressmen and the alleged existence of other Napoleses in Congress.
Guingona said the hearing is open to public as he expressed full transparency in order for the people to know and hear the truth.
"We owe it to the Filipino people. I want them to hear and know the truth without hiding anything," he said.
Napoles will face her accusers led by whistleblower Benhur Luy for the first time as the Senate asked 60 to 80 policemen from Pasay City to help in securing the building and its premises.
Napoles is currently detained at the Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna for allegedly detaining Luy for three months.
She is also facing plunder cases before the Office of the Ombudsman for supposedly using fake non-government organizations (NGOs) to corner pork barrel and Malampaya gas funds in recent years.
A member of the House of Representatives urged Napoles on Tuesday to "tell the truth" during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on Thursday.
"The truth will set her free. After all, the Senate can give her immunity that her testimony cannot be used against her. With her revelations about the whole truth in the pork barrel scam, she would be doing the greatest deed for our nation," Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr., a stalwart of the National Unity Party, said.
Barzaga said Napoles' testimony can shed light on the use of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Malampaya funds as the public has expressed its outrage over the matter.
The lawmaker said Napoles could go as far as "saving the country" from the "chaos" it is in now.
"Her confession could start the wheels of justice to roll to the path of eliminating the graft and corruption in the highest level of the government? She should not miss this opportunity and by telling the truth, she would be making history," Barzaga added.
Senator JV Ejercito, for his part, wants the truth to come out.
Ejercito, a half brother of Senator Estrada who is being implicated in the Napoles scam, said he will never inhibit in the proceedings in order to show that they are willing to help in digging for the truth.
Aside from Estrada, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. are among the 38 people who are facing plunder and other cases before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly conspiring with Napoles.
Cibac party-list Representative Sherwin Tugna said that it is no less than the Aquino administration that will be put in a disadvantageous situation if the public will be deprived of Napoles' testimony.
Aside from the pork barrel scam, the public has also expressed its frustration over the controversial DAP of the Aquino administration.
In a televised address last week, Aquino defended the purpose of DAP and stressed that unlike the PDAF, only nine percent of the total funds were used for projects nominated by members of Congress. (With Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)