Even if she appears at a Senate inquiry, Janet Lim Napoles cannot be forced to divulge information on the alleged questionable releases of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Napoles’ lawyer Lorna Kapunan on Friday served notice her client will invoke her right against self-incrimination if and when she appears before the Blue Ribbon committee.
“Ms. Napoles will invoke her constitutional right against self incrimination,” Kapunan told The Manila Times.
She made the statement after Senate President Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said he has signed a subpoena for Napoles to appear Blue Ribbon panel.
Kapunan said Napoles would rather submit a sworn statement to the Office of the Ombudsman “which is the appropriate venue,” than revealing all she knows about the pork anomaly in the Senate.
Napoles and some lawmakers and government officials have been charged with plunder before the Ombudsman for allegedly funnelling billions of pesos of pork barrel funds into sham non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Kapunan said she will write the Senate to explain what Napoles plans to do.
Napoles is jailed in Fort Santo Domingo in Santa Rosa City in Laguna on illegal detention charges.
The Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC), which is handling the case, is waiting for the request from the Senate to summon her.
Makati RTC Branch 150 Clerk of Court Josefa Valencia said the Senate needs authorization from Judge Elmo Alameda “since the court has jurisdiction over Napoles.”
“Because of her pending case with us, it is just proper that the Senate should ask for a clearance for her to attend the probe in the Upper Chamber,” Valencia told The Manila Times.
The judge has to carefully study such a request to determine if it will affect Napoles’ case.
“All factors should be considered, like the security of Ms. Napoles or if it will affect her ongoing case,” Valencia said.
Instead of being tightlipped, Napoles should tell everything she knows about the pork barrel scheme and name all the people involved, Senate Majority Floor Leader Allan Peter Cayetano and whistleblower Sandra Cam said on Friday.
Cayetano, who was spoke at the 5th RIPPES International Meeting on Social Solidarity Economy, said Napoles “will not have peace of mind until she reveals all her cohorts.”
“Her religious advisers should advise her to tell all,” Cayetano said.
Cam, who was a guest at the Balitaan sa Hotel Rembrandt, challenged Napoles “to tell the untold stories on pork barrel.”
“She should be brave enough to reveal who are the personalities behind the scam especially those government officials pretending they knew nothing,” Cam said.
Cam, the self-confessed bagwoman of jueteng operators in Masbate, had pointed to then Pampanga Congressman Mikey Arroyo as one of the recipients of jueteng funds.
She also said Rene Manlaque, now the Candaba, Pampanga mayor, was the bagman for Mikey Arroyo who she alleged collected protection money from jueteng operators.
Cam said Napoles should not listen to people who wanted her to keep her mouth shut when she is summoned before the Senate inquiry.
“The Senate is the proper venue to reveal the truth. Do not be cowed by some people who wanted to silence her. This investigation is open to public and media is closely monitoring everything,” Cam said.
She urged Napoles to “spill the beans” because simply denying her involvement in the pork barrel anomalies will only embolden dirty politicians and government officials.
“Do not waste the opportunity. This is the time to reveal what the people should know and at the same time will lighten her burden,” Cam said.
Cayetano is confident the Senate will open its inquiry into the pork barrel or the Malampaya fund before the end of the year.