Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind and businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles appeared at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry today despite the lack of chosen legal counsel.
The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) sent Atty. Harold Arreza to advise Napoles through the senate investigations.
At around 10:00 AM, Napoles took oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. She was then given about 30 minutes to confer with the legal counsel she was provided in Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano’s office, which was the closest office from the Blue Ribbon hall.
When Napoles’ camp faced BRC Chair Teofisto Guingona III, Atty. Arreza immediately requested for an executive session because of the sensitivity of the case. Guingona declared a break and took a few minutes to discuss the request with other authorities present in the hearing. After discussing, Guingona and Cayetano explained that they cannot grant Napoles’ request for an executive session.
An executive session calls for a private hearing, where media people and spectators are not allowed to watch the proceedings. Sen. Cayetano also explained to Napoles that whether or not they have an executive session, the results will be turned over to the media anyway, so Napoles’ statement will still make its way out of the hallowed halls of the Philippine Senate.
BRC Chair Guingona questioned Napoles first, asking about the nature of Napoles’ businesses. Guingona asked Napoles and conferred with the present whistleblowers for verification. The inquiry became a vicious cycle of Napoles saying that the whistleblowers’ statement are false, while the whistleblowers Benhur Luy and Merlina Sunas returns the favor by saying, “Nagsisinungaling po siya (she is lying).”
After a few minutes, Cayetano announced that Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago is not feeling very well so she would like to have her turn to question Napoles.
“There you are. Let me take a good look at you,” Santiago says to Napoles when it was finally her turn.
As a veteran lawyer, judge, and legislator, the inquiry quickly became ‘The Miriam Santiago Show” where Asia’s Iron Lady used her time to question Napoles and defend herself as well.
The veteran senator spent significant time ranting about some of her colleagues from the Senate who did not finish college and did not study or practice law but had the nerve to make fun of her while she was absent from the hearings.
“Mga inggitero,” Santiago exclaimed about the said senators.
Santiago also brought one concern of hers. She believes that Napoles cannot avail of the legal services of then Public Attorney’s Office. According to PAO guidelines, PAO services will be given free of charge for those who cannot afford to hire an attorney.
“From what we heard about you, you can definitely afford a lawyer,” Santiago said to Napoles.
Santiago then explained how suspicious it is that Napoles chose to relieve her legal counsel three days before her schedule appearance at the Blue Ribbon Committee.
Napoles mostly used her right to invoke against self-incrimination as Santiago threw question after question towards her. Napoles either answered “I invoke my right against self-incrimination” or “hindi ko po alam (I don’t know)” when Santiago asked her questions like:
– Is (Sen. Juan Ponce) Enrile the “Tanda” (in the reported transactions)?
– Is (Sen. Jinggoy) Estrada the “Sexy?”
– Is (Sen. Bong) Revilla the “Pogi?”
Santiago looked unimpressed and skeptical, even saying things like, “Hindi mo (Napoles) kilala ang pinaka guilty? Oh, ako alam ko (You don’t know who’s the most guilty? Oh, I do know).”
Santiago also implored Napoles to give a full confession and to perpetuate her testimony just in case Napoles gets “assassinated.”
“Maraming taong gustong ipapatay (A lot of people want you killed),” Santiago told Napoles.
“These people (involved in the scam) are not just homicidal, they are murderous. They are planning your murder,” Santiago bluntly said to the alleged pork barrel scam mastermind.
The scam involves 72 legislators, pinning the top three Napoles supporters as Sen. Estrada, Sen. Enrile, and Sen. Revilla.
“Kung si Enrile ang pinaka guilty, sabihin mo na (If Enrile is the most guilty, just say so),” Santiago bravely said.
Santiago admits that she’s not in good terms with former Senate President Enrile.
Santiago ended her inquiry by giving free legal advice to Napoles, “Tell the truth before senators have you assassinated.”
Session is currently on a break after Napoles said that she is starting to feel dizzy. Sen. Alan Cayetano then announced a lunchbreak.
Sen. Santiago is having a press conference, while the whistleblowers decided to stay in the session hall.