JANET Lim Napoles may appear at the Senate after all.
Senate President Franklin Drilon was left with no choice but allow members of the chamber to decide if they will compel Napoles to testify before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, in a letter to Drilon, said that she will submit to the collective wisdom of the members of the Senate on the issue.
Morales earlier said that summoning Napoles to testify at the Senate hearing was not advisable. However, when Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona 3rd insisted that the jailed businesswoman should appear before his panel, Drilon sought clarification from the Ombudsman.
Morales said that while she is not inclined to modify her previous comment, she acknowledged the supremacy of the Senate.
“That the Senate is supreme in its own sphere was never meant to be challenged. I thus submit to the collective wisdom of its members,” she said in her letter to Drilon dated Sept. 27.
The earlier opinion of the Ombudsman was Drilon’s basis not to sign the subpoena for Napoles.
Some observers view the move of Drilon as an attempt to prevent Napoles from appearing at the Senate because she may be forced to provide information that may implicate other lawmakers including those allied with administration.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said that there are procedures that senators can fall back on if the majority finds the decision of the Senate President unacceptable.
“If the members disagree with the decision we can go through a caucus or do it in plenary,” Recto said, as he insisted that the Senate has the legal authority to subpoena Napoles.
Meanwhile, a civil society group on Monday appealed to the Supreme Court (SC) to abolish the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel and the Special Presidential Fund (SPF).
Jose Malvar Villegas Jr., chairman and founder of Citizen’s Crime Watch (CCW), said that their petition, filed by Raymond Fortun, urged the High Court not to lift the
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the pork barrel funds.
The CCW, in their petition, said that the power of judicial review is urgently needed in
order to put an end to the abuse of public funds.
Fortun said the CCW does not buy the argument of the Solicitor General that the TRO should be lifted because some 412,000 scholars are affected.
The lawyer argued that, if indeed these scholars “exist”, then they have to explain if these students underwent scrutiny or competitive examinations as should be the case in getting scholars of the government.
The group also asked the SC to declare the executive lump sum, discretionary funds unconstitutional.
Jeff Antiporda And Neil A. Alcober