Ping warns of Senate collapse if list revealed

By Christina Mendez, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 12 2014 09:39 AM | Updated as of May 12 2014 05:39 PM

MANILA - Presidential adviser for rehabilitation and recovery Panfilo Lacson is ready to disclose to the Senate the names in the list given to him by relatives of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles that implicates various lawmakers and personalities in the pork barrel scam.

Lacson, however, said he would seek to appear before an executive session, noting that the release of the Napoles list could destroy the Senate as an institution.

Lacson also said over radio dzBB that he believed there are national security concerns if the list was released to the public.

“Sa pananaw ko meron itong national security kasi baka magiba ang Senado kapag nalabas ito sa publiko,” he said, adding that public trust in the Senate might be severely eroded.

Under Senate rules, an executive session among senators is held behind closed doors, and only the secretary and Senate sergeant-at-arms could be admitted to the session.

Whatever is discussed in an executive session is deemed confidential among the senators.

Lacson made the disclosure on the eve of a caucus called by Senate Blue Ribbon committee chairman Teofisto Guingona III who vowed to take up the issue with his colleagues today.

Guingona is also expected to discuss further details of the committee report on the pork barrel scam, and how the committee might proceed with the public hearings on the Malampaya Fund scam.

The committee report had so far gathered the signatures of 10 senators, including Sen. Juan Victor Ejercito who favored the recommendation to pursue plunder charges against three senators, including his half-brother Jinggoy Estrada.

It would need the approval of at least 11 members of the Blue Ribbon panel before the report is submitted for deliberations in plenary session.

Lacson, a former senator, said he is ready to provide the list once subpoenaed by his former colleagues at the Senate, adding that he knows the rules of the Senate as a collegial body.

Earlier, Lacson said the list contained the names of enough senators “to ratify a treaty,” or at least 16 of the 24-member Senate.

Lacson said he would leave it up to the Senate as a whole whether the list could be released to the public after assessing its national security implications.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima had earlier confirmed that there are more names tagged by Napoles in her account of the misuse of the pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund of lawmakers. She refused to reveal details, however, pending validation.

Napoles’ camp earlier confirmed that a draft, which is an incomplete affidavit, was given to Lacson. The complete affidavit was submitted to De Lima.

Early last week, another administration ally, Sen. Sergio Osmeña IV, said he would ask for an executive session among senators and De Lima to discuss details of the list.

The incumbent senators might bring the issue to a vote, Lacson said, adding that they have the last say on whether or not to make it public.

Summon Napoles anew

The Senate could also summon Napoles anew if the Blue Ribbon committee decides to do so, Lacson said, adding that the public hearing could be conducted inside the Ospital ng Makati where Napoles is confined after her recent surgery, if needed for security and medical reasons.

Lacson said his list contained the names of senators and congressmen, some former lawmakers and others who are still in office, with the list dating back to 2000 until 2010, he said.

The former senator said he got hold of the copies of some documents, narration of events, the list and Napoles’ draft affidavit.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Alan Cayetano said he hopes that the list would be made public so that the people may know who misused taxpayers’ money.

He is also pushing for the re-opening of the Senate probe, saying that the pork barrel issue is not yet considered as a closed case because of the massive corruption in the misappropriations of the PDAF.

Lacson's list different

Lacson’s list of lawmakers and other personalities implicated by Napoles in the pork barrel scam is different from the official list submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Napoles’ lawyer Bruce Rivera said that while the list with Lacson indeed came from the Napoles family, it was just a draft.

“The list given to Senator Ping was just partial. It’s different from the list given to Secretary (Leila) de Lima where Mrs. Napoles added more names,” he told The STAR.

Rivera again confirmed that the family of his client had given Lacson a copy of her draft affidavit and the list of lawmakers before Napoles herself submitted her tell-all affidavit to De Lima last April 21. – With Edu Punay