THE Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Tuesday rejected the request of Janet Lim-Napoles to postpone her scheduled appearance before the panel on Thursday, November 7.
Napoles, the alleged architect of the pork barrel scam, asked Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senator Teofisto Guingona 3rd, chairman of the committee, to be given time to hire a new lawyer to assist her during the panel hearing.
In her letter, the detained businesswoman said that she has no intention of disobeying the orders of the Senate for her to appear and testify before the committee even if she believes that her appearance would not do any good in the ongoing probe.
Napoles added that she wanted to make sure she had someone to protect her rights during the Senate hearing.
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said Napoles’s request for postponement is “just part of her attempt to delay the proceedings and her not having a lawyer is not enough to convince the panel.
“She has all the resources and she has a legal team who had been preparing and studying her defense. (It’s) time to answer questions and tell the whole truth.”
He asked Napoles to stop her delaying tactics and to stop making a fool of every Filipino. “The right to counsel which she so vigorously invoked in her request is not absolute under the law and her right to a counsel of her choosing is limited.”
“I am certain that the government can provide her a competent lawyer to assist her and ensure that her rights are protected during the Blue Ribbon hearing on Nov. 7,” he added.
Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th also maintained that the Senate has the authority to force Napoles to attend the proceedings even if it means dragging her into the session hall.
Aquino added that the Senate can provide her with a public lawyer whom she must accept, whether she likes it or not.
Public Attorneys Office chief Persida Rueda-Acosta said that her office can assign lawyers to assist Napoles.
The Philippine National Police and Senate security officials are ironing out final security and contingency plans for the expected appearance of Napoles.
PNP Public Information chief Senior Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac said the police is considering the request of the Senate Sergeant-at-arms to deploy additional policemen at the Senate.
The PNP has been acting as Napoles’ custodian since August, when she was transferred to her detention center at the Special Action Force in Santa Rosa, Laguna province.