MANILA - Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said she would be voting to subpoena Janet Napoles.
“In effect, the Constitution gives this power to the Senate. It might upset the delicate system of checks and balances, if the Senate itself dilutes this power by seeking an external agency such as the Ombudsman, to express a legal opinion,” she said.
The Senate will be holding a caucus on Monday afternoon after Senate President Franklin Drilon said he will allow his colleagues to decide on the matter.
Drilon and Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Teofisto Guingona have locked horns on the issue. Drilon said he was taking the advice of the Ombudsman that this is not the right time to call Napoles, while Guingona said having the alleged pork scam come over at the Senate meant upholding the lawmakers’ rights in the Constitution.
“At the start, I was against holding ‘an inquiry in aid of legislation’ by the blue ribbon committee on the Napoles issue, on the ground that it would be a redundancy. But the committee chair exercised his discretion to hold the hearing. Following Senate tradition, the Senate should support the rulings of the committee chair,” Santiago said.
She made the statement with a caveat that she is still on sick leave. “If I were not on sick leave, I would vote to issue the subpoena to Napoles.”
She said she is still suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which has kept her from attending Senate hearings.
“At my recent meeting with him, US Ambassador Harry Thomas told me that he is familiar with CFS. One of his close friends, who is also a US ambassador, has a daughter, now 26, who has CFS. The friend took early retirement, so that he and his wife could take personal care of their daughter,” she said.
“This is the context of CFS, in the light of which, I hope the Senate and the public might extend the latitude of their patience with me,” she added.