MANILA (Mabuhay) — Senator Teofisto Guingona III on Wednesday warned his colleagues against using the appearance of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles at the Senate for grandstanding.
“There are rules of the Senate. May karapatan ang mga taong haharap. Gagalangin ang mga karapatan at susundin ang rules. I give my personal assurance that this will never happen under my watch,” Guingona said when asked what steps he would take to ensure that Napoles’s appearance will not turn into a “political circus.”
The Senate blue ribbon committee, chaired by Guingona, summoned Napoles to a hearing on November 7, when the controversial businesswoman is expected to face off with whistleblowers accusing her of engineering the alleged scam.
Three senators—Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Bong Revilla Jr.—are facing plunder charges in connection with the alleged anomaly.
Guingona added that senators will be allowed to ask questions based on their order of arrival, and will be allowed to answer as much questions as they want.
“There are rules on decorum and dapat masunod iyon. Rules are rules and they have to be followed. Decorum is decorum. Proper courtesy should be given to individuals, including the rights of people appearing before the Blue ribbon committee. They have to be respected. That is non-negotiable,” he said.
Lengthy hearing possible
Guingona further said that the November 7 hearing which Napoles is expected to attend may become lengthy if the controversial businesswoman invokes her right against self-incrimination for each question the senators ask.
“It depends on the question you ask whether she can invoke her right to self incrimination. Whether she properly invokes it or not, that will be evaluated after she invokes it and after the question has been asked. Per question iyon,” he said.
He, however, assured that Napoles’s rights will be respected as much as possible during her appearance at the Senate.
“We must give people appearing before the Senate blue ribbon committee the widest latitude when it comes to their rights. I for one would like to respect the rights of citizens,” Guingona said.
He added that the Senate sergeant-at-arms is already coordinating with the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Napoles’s security during the hearing.
Napoles is currently detained in Laguna for a separate illegal detention case. She is currently facing plunder complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman for her alleged involvement in the pork barrel and Malampaya Fund scams. (MNS)