MANILA - Senator Miriam Santiago on Tuesday blasted rehabilitation chief Panfilo Lacson as she denied having dealt with alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Santiago reiterated that she never appropriated her pork barrel to NGOs associated with Napoles.
Lacson earlier confirmed that Santiago is included in the list of lawmakers allegedly involved in the pork barrel scam. Lacson made the confirmation on the “Yes or No” interview portion of Bandila.
Santiago turned the tables on Lacson and questioned his masculinity.
"Anyone can make lists. I was told that there is a list entitled 'Closeted gays or bisexuals in public service.' I was given names, and I was requested to say 'Yes' or 'No' on whether the person was truly in the list. When the name Pinky Lacson was called, I said 'Yes,'" Santiago said in a statement.
"Anyway, there is an affidavit, although unsigned, circulating in Metro Manila that Pinky Lacson has asked for leave of absence from Malacañang. The highly confidential reason is that he is scheduled for a gender change operation in a remote clinic in the United States."
"For the record, I never had dealings with Napoles. The Napoles list, if unsigned, has no evidentiary value at all. I repeat, Lacson is an attack dog of Enrile. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that to allege is not proof. Where is the evidence, as defined in the Rules of Court? I am pushing to get the list of Benhur Luy. I understand that the Luy list is substantiated by documents and details,” she said.
Senator Chiz Escudero also made a categorical denial that he allocated funds to NGOs associated with Napoles.
Lacson had also confirmed in the Bandila interview that Escudero was also included in the list furnished by Jaime Napoles.
"Wala kong ina-allocate maski na piso na PDAF o anumang pondo sa NGO ni Napoles. Wala rin akong pinakinabangan mula sa kanya. Ang tanong ko ay ito: galing ang listahang naglilipana kay Napoles. Bakit ba nagsisilbing tagapagsalita, messenger at ahente itong mga taong ginagamit nila?” Escudero said.
Escudero believes that Janet Napoles is out to muddle the issue and use personalities such as Lacson and Justice Secretary de Lima to act as her "spokespersons" and lend credibility to the purported lists.
"Sana huwag magpadala, magpagamit ang mga taong ito para magulo, ma-muddle, at malihis ang issue palayo dito kina Napoles. Dahil sa dulo, galing pa rin it kay Napoles," he said.
He said he is used to being dragged into controversies, pointing out that he had called for the investigation on the pork barrel scam and continues to insist that Napoles be placed in a regular jail cell.
He also noted that other senators who have been aggressive in the investigation such as Santiago and Alan Peter Cayetano are now being tagged in the scandal.
Cayetano has previously denied any involvement in the scam.
"Buo ang tiwala at kumpyansa ko sa taumbayan na makikita nila ang pagkakaiba nito. Ang hindi ko lang maintindihan nga, bakit nagpapagamit ang mga taong binigyan ng listahan? Sila ang nagsasalita imbes na si Napoles ang nagsasalita. Sila ang nagsasabi ng mga pangalan imbes na si Napoles ang nagsasabi. Tila tuloy nagiging tagapagsalita, messenger at ahente sila ni Napoles. At imbes na si Napoles na walang kredibilidad at minsang nagsinungaling na ang magsalita, sila ang nagsisilbing tagapagsalita. Nagmumukha tuloy galing sa kanila,” Escudero said.
Escudero said he has nothing to fear and is ready to face any investigation.
"Hindi totoo 'yun at bukas ang libro, bukas ang aming tanggapan kaugnay sa anumang katanugan kaugnay niyan at anumang imbestigasyon, nakahanda kaming humarap. Ika nga, walang tinatago, wala namang dapat katakutan," he said.
He reiterated his call for the Blue Ribbon committee to subpoena not only the list of Napoles but also Napoles herself to testify on the contents of the purported lists.
He also wants Justice Secretaries de Lima and Lacson, and Sandra Cam to testify on the circumstances of their receiving the lists that they have in possession.
Escudero said he remains unperturbed and would still participate in subsequent hearings, if any, on the pork barrel scam.
"Definitely," Escudero said. "Hindi at hindi rin ako magpapadala at magpapalagay sa alanganin ng isang Napoles lang."