More senators call on DOJ to make public the Napoles’ list

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Monday, May 5, 2014

BELEAGUERED Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. challenge Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to make public the alleged list of government officials whom businesswoman Janet Napoles had transactions with regarding their pork barrel allocations.

In an interview, Revilla said that if de Lima is really fair and there is no truth that the Justice Secretary want Napoles affidavit to exclude the names of alleged allies of the President, "dapat ilabas na nila ngayon na."

The list of Napoles allegedly incriminates not only Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose Jinggoy Estrada and Revilla but also other members of the Senate, some Cabinet officials, members of the House of Representatives, and former legislators.

Jueteng whistleblower Sandra Cam, meanwhile, said nearly 100 lawmakers, both past and present, were on the list. Apart from Enrile, Estrada and Revilla, the list named 10 more incumbent senators and three former members of the Senate.

Cam, president of the Whistleblowers Association of the Philippines, said Napoles also implicated 82 members of the House of Representatives.

Cam got hold of the supposed list from a male "unimpeachable source" prior to de Lima's meeting with Napoles on April 21 at the Ospital ng Makati.

Senate President Franklin Drilon, for his part, said the Senate Blue Ribbon committee has the "compulsory power" to require the Department of Justice (DOJ) to submit to the Senate a copy of the alleged list of government officials whom Napoles had transactions with regarding their pork barrel allocations.

Drilon said the Senate investigating body can use its power to compel de Lima to give them a copy of the supposed "Napoles list."

He said he is not stopping any member of the Senate from insisting on the reopening of the Senate probe into the pork barrel controversy "but the matter is up to Senator Teofisto Guingona III who heads the Blue Ribbon panel."

Drilon reiterated that he is not blocking attempts to release the list as long as there is documentary evidence to go with it.

De Lima admitted the senators can force her to reveal the names of lawmakers and other government officials tagged by Napoles in the multi-billion peso scam.

De Lima may be grilled on the list once the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) requires her to appear at a confirmation hearing before Congress goes into sine die adjournment on June 12. The CA is composed of select members of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

"By law and the constitution, yes, the Senate can compel me to disclose the list, under pain of contempt. But I'll appeal to them to wait for proper time and give me enough space to do my mandated tasks with utmost responsibility," she said in a text message to reporters.

De Lima vowed not to release the list until the DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) complete the validation of Napoles' testimony with the help of whistleblowers she met last Friday.

Drilon said the matter of resolving the pork barrel controversy and bringing those guilty before the courts are best left to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Guingona earlier declined calls to reopen the pork barrel inquiry. The committee has also issued a committee report recommending the filing of plunder, administrative and graft charges against Napoles, the three senators, their respective chiefs and other lawmakers.

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano insisted that de Lima immediately make public the affidavit executed by Napoles in order for them to have the chance to scrutinize the affidavit.

Cayetano also asked de Lima to also verify if people on the list are in fact guilty and are clients of Napoles, or if their names are simply being dragged into the controversy.

Cayetano said that as early as August last year, he already said the books of his office are open to the scrutiny of the Commission on Audit (COA) for any irregularity.

"Let me state once again: Not a single centavo of PDAF from my office went to a Napoles or any other fake NGO. Everything went directly to the people. In fact, as early as August of last year, I wrote the COA to audit the books of my office and I am confident that they will find no irregularity," he said.

Cayetano said that before the pork scam issue gets muddled even further, the Filipino people should have a face-to-face with Napoles through the Senate so that she can speak and be cross examined.

"Let us also be wary of black ops and character assassination attempts against the whistleblowers. Evidence is damning, so all that is left is for the guilty to muddle the issue and hope for an ally in the Palace in 2016," he said.

Aside from Revilla, Drilon and Cayetano, other senators who called for the reopening of the Blue Ribbon panel probe and asking for the official list of Napoles are Grace Poe, Jinggoy Estrada, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Antonio Trillanes IV, Sergio Osmeña III, and Francis Escudero (Camille P. Balagtas/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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