THE Senate Blue Ribbon committee investigating the multi-billion peso pork barrel controversy will not accept security concerns as reason in order to prevent Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the scam, from attending the panel hearing, Senator Teofisto Guingona 3rd said on Monday.
Guingona, who chairs the senate Blue Ribbon panel, issued the statement after Senate President Franklin Drilon, signed the subpoena compelling Napoles to appear before the panel and testify on what she knows about the pork barrel scam.
The Blue Ribbon chairman said that he doesn’t see any reason why the court would not allow Napoles from attending the hearing, and there should have a very good reason to deny her appearance in the hearing.
“Right now I cannot think of any reason why the court will not allow Napoles to come to the senate…,” Guingona told reporters in a news briefing, adding that they can always elevate the matter before the Supreme Court (SC).
Security concern could be cited as reason why the court would disallow Napoles from testifying before the Senate blue ribbon hearing, considering that she supposedly is holding very important information regarding the PDAF anomaly that involves several legislators.
Guingona said that while security of Napoles is a valid concern he expressed confidence that the PNP will take all the necessary steps to ensure her safety in the senate.
Drilon signed the subpoena directing Napoles to appear before the senate panel hearing on November 7, but apart from alleged PDAF scam mastermind, the committee also summoned the six whistleblowers who earlier testified in the senate.
Subpoenas were also issued to Benhur Luy, Gertrudes Luy, Ms. Marina Sula, Ms. Merlina Suña, Mary Arlene Balatazar and Simonette Briones.
The six were mostly employees of the Napoles in her JLN corporation while other were used by the controversial businesswoman as dummies to different non-governmental organizations (NGOs) she put up.
Guingona noted that they decided to also invite the whistleblowers so that the panel can have a system of crosschecks and balances wherein both parties can immediately validate or refute what is being said during the proceedings.
The November 7 blue ribbon hearing is expected to be an exciting one because the panel has no plans to impose conditions to those who will be testifying. This means that Napoles and other whistleblowers can say whatever they want and identify anyone even legislators.
During the previous hearings, the whistleblowers where allowed not to identify the senators and congressmen that allegedly have dealings with their former boss.
Some members of the committee even resorted to using nicknames and aliases to hide the identity of the legislators being describe by the whistleblowers.
“There will be no conditions this time… Yes,! the hearing will bare all,” Guingona said.
But some observers have expressed doubts that Napoles will bare all since her camp already expressed unwillingness to attend the panel hearing and is likely to seek the court’s intervention in the senate subpoena.
“Anything is possible. Anybody can file anything. It’s what you put as your reason is the one that’s important,” Guingona pointed out.
In the event that she is allowed to attend the hearing there is however a possibility that she will invoke her right against self-incrimination and will virtually prevent the senate committee from getting information from Napoles.
But the lawmaker said that he would rather wait until the hearing resumes rather than speculating on what will Napoles would do during the proceedings.
Once the Senate sergeant-at-arms served the subpoena to the PNP-SAF, the commander of the SAF will then get permission from the court for them to transport Napoles from her cell inside Fort Sto. Domingo to the Senate office in Pasay City. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA