Senator assures no bullying of Napoles at Blue Ribbon hearing

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

SENATOR Sergio Osmena III assured that there will be no bullying for Janet Napoles in the resumption of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing on the controversial pork barrel fund scam.

The senator said they will definitely ask Napoles, the alleged pork scam mastermind, to tell all and name those senators who allegedly transacted with her in the past.

It was reported that Napoles will be naming another three senators, which was confirmed by his counsel Bruce Rivera.

It was reported that Napoles discovered the names of the three additional senators while checking her transaction records from as far back as year 2000.

"It is because the transactions are not just in 2007-2009. They started in 2000. So therefore it was a very long list of transactions and you tend to forget, she does not have a photographic memory that you know every nook and cranny," Rivera was quoted as saying.

It was also reported that Napoles still has checks, vouchers, and records to back up her claims of dealing with lawmakers.

Osmena said the Blue Ribbon will respect Napoles and will allow her to say everything for the sake of finding the truth.

According to the senator, the mistake committed by Napoles in naming Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito then later clarified that it was a mistake on their part is just but normal.

"That is a natural human experience. Alam niyo, tinatanong niyo sa witness kung anong nangyari in the last 13 years. Siyempre hindi perfect ang memory niyan. Ang gagawin niya susulat siya ng susulat, tapos i-issue niya ang written statement. It's impossible for us to expect that her memory will be perfect," Osmena said.

"Therefore, at least, if she has the courage to make a correction at sasabihin niya na 'Ay mali, hindi pala ito, 'yung isa pala,' then we have to accept that. But that does not mean that she's telling the truth," he said.

The senator from Cebu said all statements issued by Napoles will still need validation as he maintained the need for the blue ribbon to corroborate all Napoles statements by asking for proper documents and supporting evidence plus the Commission on Audit documentary evidence to make sure that everything is in accordance with the law.

"I would want to have it disclosed at the same time that we call Napoles here so she can right away validate which names are which," Osmena said.

Napoles camp clarified that the inclusion of Ejercito in the list was an error made by the encoder and that they had asked the Department of Justice to strike out Ejercito's name from the list.

Ejercito, for his part, said he was very surprised and was upset when he learned that his name was included in the Napoles list.

He said he is willing to open all the books in order to allow the truth to come out.

"It is really very damaging on my part. I have no dealings with her. I don't know her. And I can prove that to whole world. Hindi ako kailanman naging ka negosasyon ni Napoles," Ejercito told reporters when asked to comment.

Osmena said the Blue Ribbon is willing to apologize for naming Ejercito as part of the Napoles list.

"I will apologize. Pero alam niyo, naiipit din ang Blue Ribbon sapagkat kung itinago ni Senator Teofisto TG Guingona 'yung listahan, sasabihin kaagad ng mga tao sina-sanitize ang listahan. It is impossible for us to vet a witness. This information came from Napoles. We cannot tell Napoles what to say or not say. We will ask her a question, sino ang mga kasama sa scam na iyan, ang sasabihin niya A, B, C or D. We don’t have the resources or the power to confirm it first before releasing the information to the public," Osmena said.

He said that he agreed that the list in the custody of de Lima is the only one that matters "considering that de Lima signed it and the document has been properly notarized."

Senator Jose Jinggoy Estrada said those behind Napoles may now be resorting to "dagdag bawas" and sanitizing the list in favor of the administration allies.

"Tinatangal nila ang kanilang kakampi. at kung saka sakaling ilagay nila ang kakampi nila, it will not fall under the threshold of plunder. Pero kaming tatlo (Estrada, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, Senator Ramon Bong Revilla) laging kasama," Estrada said.

Estrada said the DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation are constantly visiting Napoles at the Ospital ng Makati.

"Kung meron silang secret deal, wala na kaming kalaban laban," Estrada said.

Enrile, for his part, said he is not affected with Napoles naming him as part of the pork barrel scam.

The Senate Minority Leader shrugged off the accusations, saying he will meet those accusing him in court at the right time and place.

The Senator from Cagayan expressed belief that in the end, the truth will come out and insisting that he is not in any way affected.

"I know the truth. I know my law. And I am unaffected," Enrile said. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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