MANILA - Senate Blue Ribbon Committee vice chair Serge Osmeña is willing to apologize to Senator JV Ejercito but stood by the committee's decision to release the unsigned and signed list of Janet Napoles of officials allegedly involved in the pork barrel scam.
Ejercito's name was included in the list of lawmakers allegedly linked to the scam.
The lawyer of Janet Napoles later apologized to Ejercito and clarified that the encoder committed a mistake when he included Ejercito in the list.
Osmeña said that committee chair TG Guingona released the list for "transparency" and did it with no malice.
"Walang malisya ‘yan. As a matter of fact, we did it in the interest of transparency and we have to commend Senator Guingona for doing that," Osmeña told reporters.
"Well, if he (Senator Ejercito) wants us to apologize, I will apologize. Pero alam mo, naiipit din ang blue ribbon [committee] sapagkat kung tinago ni Senator TG ang listahan, sasabihin kaagad ng mga tao, ‘Ah, baka sina-sanitize ang listahan.’ It is impossible for us to vet a witness and this information comes from Napoles. We cannot tell Napoles what to say or not say. We will ask her a question, 'Sino ang mga kasama sa scam na 'yan?' Ang sasabihin niya, ‘A, B, C, or D. We don’t have the resources or the power to confirm it first before releasing it to the public."
Osmeña said he would understand if Napoles would retract or add some names, saying it is "natural" for Napoles not to remember all the details about what happened many years ago.
"That is a natural human experience. Tinatanong mo sa witness, 'Ano po ang nangyari in the last 13 years. O syempre hindi perfect ang memory niyan, di ba? So susulat nang susulat, magi-issue ng written statement but it’s impossible for us to expect that her memory will be perfect. So therefore, at least if she has the courage to make a correction, at sasabihin niyang, ‘Ay mali, hindi pala ito, ‘yung isa pala,' then we have to accept that. Now that doesn’t mean she is telling the truth. That means we still have to corroborate all her statements by additional evidence which is corroborating witnesses, documentary evidence, the COA report. So these are natural in the course of things,” he said.
The list submitted by Napoles could be considered "credible" but "not perfect," Osmeña said, adding that he would still accept the list “as is” even though some changes would still be made with the list.
“We have to consider it as credible but not as perfect without mistake. Syempre nakita mo naman, in the case of some members of the Senate, there was corroborating evidence from other witnesses, from the COA, from the DBM records. So does that mean that the government made a mistake in charging those senators? Hindi naman. But again, don’t expect perfection. This is natural in the course of things,” he said.
“Since I do not expect perfection, we still have to accept the list as is and corroborate. Hindi naman namin sinasabi na that list is perfect absolutely, na everybody in that list is guilty. No, we’re not saying that. We’re saying, ‘Here’s the list that Napoles gave.’ That’s all we’re saying.”
Meantime, Osmeña said the committee hearing on the Malampaya fund scam was reset due to an administration request for a postponement due to the World Economic Forum.