MANILA, Philippines - Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano reiterated yesterday that he would push for the Senate Blue Ribbon committee to summon alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles to appear before the inquiry into the Malampaya Fund anomaly, which is expected to be held on Thursday next week.
Senator Teofisto Guingona III, the chairman of the Blue Ribbon committee, announced the postponement of the Malampaya Fund scam hearing originally set for tomorrow because the invited resource person for the first hearing, Commission on Audit Chairman Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan, would not be available.
However, more than the reason stated by Guingona, the vice chairman of the committee, Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, said that the administration requested for the postponement of the hearing because it would coincide with the World Economic Forum on East Asia meetings, which the Philippines is hosting.
Once the Malampaya Fund scam hearing begins, Cayetano said that Napoles should be present since she was also involved here.
Cayetano was among the senators who have been pushing for Napoles to testify for a second time before the Senate so that she could be made to validate her claims about the legislators who were involved in the pork barrel scam.
Napoles, through her lawyer Bruce Rivera, has stated that she is willing to testify before the Senate.
However, she made an appeal for all the senators who were implicated in the scam to inhibit themselves from the hearing.
Cayetano said that this request was ridiculous and that there is no chance that she would be allowed to dictate such terms for her testimony.
“Who would interview her if all would inhibit? Remember that Sen. (Panfilo) Lacson said that more than half of the Senate would be involved if all three lists are merged. And what’s to stop Ms. Napoles from naming anyone else? So it’s becoming ridiculous. It’s as if she is joining a contest and saying that she will choose the judges,” Cayetano said.
“So to have her there is not a hearing if the senators will inhibit. It’s just a press conference,” he added.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said that this is all part of the game plan of Napoles.
“To come up with a list and then ask for inhibition so that she can perpetuate her lies with minimum tests on her credibility,” Pimentel said about the appeal for inihibition of Napoles.
“That’s a laughable scenario. When you testify in the Senate, you better be ready to face hopefully tough questions from senators whether named or not named (in the lists),” he added.
Cayetano shared the same sentiment as Pimentel that the appeal of Napoles was just a ploy to deflect the attention off her.
Instead of calling for the inhibition of senators, Cayetano reiterated his offer to allow Napoles to cross-examine him when she appears before the hearings.
“Where can she get a deal like that? Nowhere in the world can a witness cross-examine a senator. Unless she’s lying. So if I was lying, I would not want to face her. She is willing to testify but she does not want to face us,” Cayetano said.
“If she is going to tell us the whole truth, then she has nothing to worry about. If she has evidence against these senators, so what (if they are around)?” he added.
Osmeña said that he would support the summoning of Napoles to the Malampaya Fund scam hearing next Thursday but he would also push for the invitation of Ruby Tuason, who he said was key to the scam.
Tuason was the social secretary of former President and now Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada. She was identified as the bagman for Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile in the pork barrel transactions they allegedly had with Napoles.