So what did our senators, the media and the general public learn from the testimony of Janet Lim-Napoles before the Blue Ribbon Committee yesterday?
In a word, nothing. Or at the very least, next to nothing. And this was about par for our expectations.
Her former lawyer said as much. Napoles would not be expected to say anything, much less admit to having played any role in the mother of all scams. Since the committee is not a court of law, Napoles could not be coerced to reveal anything that would land her in deeper trouble than she is already in at this time.
It was clear, however, that the suspected mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam was nervous, fidgeting, uneasy and out of her element.
Credit, or blame, must go to the intense grilling she got from Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago at the start of the Blue Ribbon hearings. She may have been seriously ill for the past couple of years, but Santiago showed that she still has one of the sharpest legal minds in the business.
Napoles wilted under the lady senator’s questioning, and stuck to her expected line that she knows nothing, absolutely nothing, about the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund of assorted senators and congressmen.
Unfortunately for Napoles, Santiago made clear the difference between refusing to answer on the grounds that her answer might incriminate her here in the Philippines as against the US.
The most important point of the senator from Iloilo is that Napoles will ultimately be judged by the Filipino people. Also, the businessman should very seriously consider perpetuating her testimony regarding the PDAF in order to safeguard her person. Once she has given her testimony, “silencing” her may no longer be practical.
Still, Napoles opted to remain silent, or at least refuse to answer on the grounds that she might incriminate herself. In all probability, therefore, she must have been told by at least one very trusted adviser to admit nothing.
What was most interesting was Napoles’s request for an executive session wherein she could have spoken more honestly, without the media and the public every knowing what she would say.
During the Blue Ribbon hearing, Napoles denied that she would have given different answers to the questions of the senators if her bid for an executive session were granted.
At the end of the hearing, all that can be said is that Napoles survived. She was escorted out of the Senate session hall and taken back to her detention facility.
Noticeably absent from the media event were Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada. Then again, the three are the senators who may be charged with plunder alongside Napoles, if the Department of Justice has its way. But it will be the Ombudsman which will decide whether to file the charge or not.
Having refused to answer most of the questions thrown her way, Janet Lim-Napoles remains the pork barrel scam queen in the eyes of the Filipino people. She missed the golden opportunity of pointing out the “true” mastermind, like Senator Santiago said.