Senators: Court can’t stop Senate probe on Napoles-A A +A
Saturday, October 19, 2013
SENATORS agree that not even the court can stop the Senate from investigating Janet Napoles and her alleged fake non-government organizations in connection with the multi-billion pesos pork barrel scam.
Senator Francis Escudero maintained that no one can dictate upon the Senate as an autonomous body. The strong power of the Senate to investigate is one pillar of democracy, he added.
The senator, a lawyer, said the Senate's move to summon the alleged pork barrel scam mastermind is legal.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano earlier said the case filed before the Makati Regional Trial Court is for illegal detention of pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy and has nothing to do with the alleged misuse of the priority development assistance funds of some lawmakers.
"Ergo the Senate is neither overstepping nor intruding into the court's business," Cayetano said.
Former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., for his part, said there are no impediments in issuing the subpoena to Napoles to attend the Senate hearing on the pork barrel scam.
Pimentel, a former chair of the blue ribbon committee, said the Senate can invoke the principle of separation of powers.
"The Senate is an equal and separate power under our democratic principle of separation of powers. The Senate can issue directly to Janet Napoles. She or her lawyers can ask the court's permission to attend. If the court disallows her to attend the hearing, the Senate can take the matter to the Supreme Court for resolution," Pimentel said Friday.
He also reminded his colleagues that asking permission will diminish the status of the Senate as an equal power.
"You do not ask permission from any agency. The Senate should exercise its power. Hihina ang Senado kapag humiling ng permiso sa anumang ahensiya. The Senate has every right to demand and to subpoena anyone on any matter as it wish in aid of legislation." Pimentel explained.
Senator Sergio Osmena III raised the possibility of holding the Senate hearing inside the detention center in Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna or in Camp Crame in Quezon City in case the court will decline the request to allow Napoles to attend the hearing in the Senate.
Osmeña, Senate blue ribbon committee vice chairman, said the Senate would be willing to adjust to the situation in case there will be a request of a possible change of venue so as to pursue Napoles testimony.
"Actually, we have to ask the permission of the court because the court has custody. Magpapadala po kami, ang blue ribbon committee at ang Senate President, ng subpoena, which will be served by the Sergeant-at-Arms, and he will bring it to the courts," Osmena said.
The most important thing of all, Osmena said is that Napoles is safe and secure and she can narrate exactly the details of her alleged anomalous transactions with lawmakers and government officials.
Aside from illegal detention charges against Napoles, a plunder complaint was also filed against Napoles and other respondents at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the pork barrel scam.
Senate President Franklin Drilon already signed the subpoena for Napoles to appear in the hearing of the blue ribbon committee.
Senator Teofisto Guingona, the committee chair, said a subpoena will be issued to Napoles as soon as the date of the hearing will be finalized.
Guingona said the subpoena might be issued on Monday, October 21 and the hearing will be set a week after. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)