Even if she appears at a Senate inquiry, Janet Lim-Napoles cannot be forced to divulge information on the alleged questionable release of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Napoles’ lawyer Lorna Kapunan said her client will invoke her right against self-incrimination when she appears before the Blue Ribbon committee.
“Ms. Napoles will invoke her constitutional right against self incrimination,” Kapunan told The Manila Times.
She issued the statement after Senate President Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said he has signed a subpoena for Napoles to appear Blue Ribbon panel.
Kapunan said instead of Napoles revealing all she knows about the pork anomaly, she will just submit a sworn statement to the Office of the Ombudsman.
“She will submit her sworn statement before the Ombudsman which is the appropriate venue,” the lawyer said.
Napoles and some lawmakers and government officials are facing plunder charges before the Ombudsman for allegedly funneling billions of pesos of lawmakers’ pork barrel funds into her bogus non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Kapunan said they will be writing the Senate to explain their move.
Napoles is jailed in Fort Santo Domingo in Santa Rosa City in Laguna on serious illegal detention charges.
The Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC), which is handling the case, is still waiting for the request or motion from the Senate for her to appear at the Senate inquiry.
Makati RTC Branch 150 Clerk of Court Josefa Valencia said the Senate can file a motion or request before Judge Elmo Alameda to let Napoles attend the Senate investigation.
“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,” Alameda told The Manila Times.
She added the Senate, through its motion, should justify the need for Napoles to appear before the Blue Ribbon committee.
The judge said once the court receives the request from the Senate, she will carefully study it to see if it will affect the hearing of her case filed by whistleblower Benjur Luy.
“All factors should be considered, like the security of Ms. Napoles or if it will affect her ongoing case,” she said.
She added that the judge will also determine if Napoles’ appearance before the Senate will preempt her case pending before his sala.
At least two senators on Thursday raised the possibility of the Makati court blocking the appearance of Napoles at the Senate inquiry.
Senators Sergio Osmeña 3rd, vice chairman of the Blue Ribbon, and Juan Edgardo Angara said the court can cite threats to Napoles’ life in preventikg her from attending the congressional hearing.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO