MANILA – Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Wednesday said the decision of Senate President Franklin Drilon not to summon alleged pork barrel scam player Janet Napoles to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing is justified.
Drilon yesterday agreed to summon more whistle-blowers in the multi-billion pork barrel scam, but accepted the advice of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales not to summon Napoles, who has been charged with others in connection with the scam.
In her letter-response to Drilon, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said, "it would not be advisable, at this time, for Ms. Napoles to testify before the said Committee on 'what she knows' about the alleged scam."
In an interview with dzMM, Pimentel said Drilon's "different treatment" of Napoles and the whistle-blowers is understandable since the situation of two camps are not the same.
"Hindi sila parehong situation kasi yung mga whistle-blowers meron silang affidavits na ginawa na eh. Mayroon silang kwento, mayroon silang sinasbaing mayroon kaming alam at merong kaming iku-kwento,'" he said.
"Samantalang si Napoles, walang affidavit ito at wala naman itong iku-kwento. Hindi naman niya sinasabing may krimeng nangyari at may alam siya."
Pimentel added that apart from the concerns raised by the Ombudsman, there are other legal and security issues regarding Napoles' appearance before the Senate.
"Mayroon pa tayong mga legal na katanungan kasi meron siyang kasong serious illegal detention. Tapos gagalawin mo from the place of detention papapuntahin mo sa Senado, para ano?" he said.
Napoles is currently detained at the Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna due to the illegal detention case filed by primary whistle-blower Benhur Luy.
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona III was disappointed over Drilon's action, saying witnesses or resource persons can still appear before the Senate inquiry even if a case is pending before the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan.
Guingona also scolded on Tuesday Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for failing to present additional whistle-blowers in the hearing on the pork barrel scam.
De Lima argued that since plunder, graft and malversation charges have already been filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, "no publicity shall be made of the case, or unduly expose persons complained against to ridicule or public censure."
Guingona then issued a subpoena to the whistle-blowers. The subpoena was approved by Drilon.