'Senate can compel DOJ to release Janet's list'

The Philippine Star

Posted at May 05 2014 08:37 AM | Updated as of May 05 2014 04:57 PM

MANILA - The Senate Blue Ribbon committee may compel the justice department to provide senators a copy of the list of lawmakers implicated by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles in the fund anomaly, Senate President Franklin Drilon said yesterday.

Drilon echoed Sen. Sergio Osmeña III’s statement that the Blue Ribbon committee can summon Justice Secretary Leila de Lima back to the Senate to shed light on Napoles’ list and remove doubts on the integrity of lawmakers who have nothing to do with the multibillion-peso scam.

Osmeña had challenged committee chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona III to reopen the Senate hearing on the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers following recent developments, including Napoles’ decision to spill the beans on the officials she dealt with through an affidavit she submitted to De Lima.

But Drilon said the claims should be backed up by evidence that can withstand scrutiny of the courts.

“The Blue Ribbon committee has compulsory power. It can request Secretary De Lima. We can compel the release of the documents if it is so decided by the committee,” he added.

Other senators also want Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s former chief of staff, lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, to appear before the Blue Ribbon panel.

Enrile and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. have been tagged in the PDAF scam.

Reyes returned to the country last month after eight months abroad.

She was dragged into the controversy by the whistle-blowers, including socialite Ruby Tuason, whose application to become state witness has been approved by the Sandiganbayan.

Unwavering support

Meanwhile, Drilon is optimistic that the public’s support for the Senate remains unwavering despite the pork barrel scandal.

He said it is important that the Senate leadership shows that it is backing efforts to unearth the truth about the anomaly.

He said he and his colleagues believe that the Office of the Ombudsman will do its best to file a case against erring government officials that will be based on evidence.

“Let us give the ombudsman some space to decide on this issue judiciously,” Drilon said.