DoJ mulls options to force Gigi Reyes et al to return
MANILA - A faceoff between Janet Napoles and the whistleblowers is expected on November 7, with the latter ready to rebut any lies that may come out during the Senate hearing, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.
De Lima has received the subpoena for Benhur Luy and the other whistleblowers, ordering them to appear before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee on the pork barrel scam.
“Their appearance (in the hearing with Napoles) would be okay so that they could immediately answer or rebut – as the case may be – statements to be made by Mrs. Napoles, assuming she would not invoke her right to remain silent or right against self-incrimination,” she told reporters on Tuesday.
De Lima expects Napoles to either not answer questions or be "limited and selective."
Napoles' lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, has said her client will invoke her right against self-incrimination.
“If Mrs. Napoles would be telling the truth and nothing but the whole truth, then she should be encouraged to fully cooperate and speak out. But I doubt if she will do so without an assurance of immunity because, surely, truth-telling on her part would be self-incriminatory,” De Lima said.
She urged the Senate not to allow Napoles to muddle the process.
“If her intention is simply to mislead, muddle and obfuscate the whole matter of the PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund] scam, then we don’t want her in the proceedings. The Senate should not and must never allow a charade to be foisted upon the general public,” she said.
De Lima said her office is also mulling options that could force others accused in the pork and Malampaya scams to return to the country even if they are not yet considered fugitives.
“I am studying carefully the Philippine Passport Act if we can use any of the proper grounds for the cancellation of their passports even if they cannot be considered fugitives from justice at this point,” she said.
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s former chief of staff Gigi Reyes and former Social Secretary Ruby Tuason are already out of the country.
Two other former officials implicated in the pork scam --former Technology Resource Center head Antonio Ortiz and former Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza-- also left the country last month.
“I’m thinking of a remedy to put pressure on them so they will surface and come back to the country,” de Lima said.