Senate caucus on Napoles subpoena reset October 16

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Monday, October 14, 2013


THE Senate leadership postponed on Monday the caucus where senators would have decided whether or not detained businesswoman Janet Napoles would be subpoenaed to the chamber for the next hearing of the blue ribbon committee.

The caucus has been reset to Wednesday, October 16.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said that it is important for the majority of the senators to attend. He said some of the senators could not make it to Monday's caucus due to sickness while others were still abroad.

Congress resumed sessions Monday after a two-week recess.

Drilon said earlier he is willing to let the majority decide on the issue on whether or not Napoles, the alleged architect of the pork barrel scam, will appear before the committee chaired by Senator Teofisto Guingona III.

It can be recalled that Drilon earlier cited the Ombudsman's legal opinion that it is not advisable at this time for Napoles to testify at the Senate because of the pending cases filed in connection with the scam.

The Ombudsman later changed its position, saying it is up to the wisdom of the Senate to decide on the matter. But Drilon and Guingona have deferring opinions on the matter, prompting the chamber to call for a caucus.

Napoles, along with three senators and several others, are facing plunder and malversation charges before the Ombudsman for their alleged involvement in the misuse of lawmakers' priority development assistance funds. Napoles is now detained on serious illegal detention charges.

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said she will definitely vote for the appearance of Napoles in order to clear the air, once and for all.

"It might upset the delicate system of checks and balances, if the Senate itself dilutes this power by seeking an external agency such as the Ombudsman, to express a legal opinion," she added as she maintained that it is constitutional for the Senate to exercise its right to subpoena Napoles.

"At the start, I was against holding ‘an inquiry in aid of legislation’ by the Blue Ribbon committee on the Napoles issue, on the ground that it would be a redundancy. But the committee chair exercised his discretion to hold the hearing. Following Senate tradition, the Senate should support the rulings of the committee chair," Santiago said.

Santiago said Monday she is still on sick leave. The senator has been suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, which has kept her from attending Senate hearings.

Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. who was tagged as one of Napoles' cohorts challenged his colleagues in the Senate to summon the beleaguered businesswoman, as he stressed the need for the latter to "speak the truth."

Revilla said it is high time that Napoles be allowed to face the blue ribbon committee in order to shed light on the many issues involving PDAF.

The senator from Cavite, who is being implicated together with Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Jinggoy Estrada, said he is seriously waiting for Napoles to appear before the Senate investigating committee in order to put an end to the many issues implicating him and his family.

Revilla admitted that the issue is affecting him and his family.

"Let the truth come out. Nakakapagod" Revilla said. Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

Local news

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