Manila – For the first time since the alleged pork barrel scam controversy surfaced, Janet Lim-Napoles, alleged mastermind, faced the Senate blue ribbon committee Thursday, 10 a.m.
Napoles arrived at the Senate hall wearing a bullet-proof vest.
As the hearing start, Committee chair Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said that they aim to see the whole picture of the controversy. He also said that the hearing is important not only for the country but also for Napoles herself.
Guingona emphasized that this is the time for Napoles to prove the accusations wrong against her and to convey the truth.
“Pagkakataon niyong makatulong sa bayan. Huwag niyong sayangin,” Guingona said of Napoles.
As of 10:15 a.m, Napoles took her oath “to tell the truth and nothing but the truth”.
Meanwhile, Napoles was provided three lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office since she has no lawyer to represent her.
The alleged suspect and her councils were given until:40 am to talk as it is their time to meet.
Hearing was suspended for 28 minutes.
10:49 a.m: Napoles and council back at the session hall.
10:50 a.m: Napoles requests for executive session.
10: 51 a.m: Blue ribbon committee hearing suspended again. Committee to discuss the request.
10: 57 a.m: Senate blue ribbon committee denies Napoles’ request for executive session.
Napoles confirms that she know the whistleblowers except Helen when asked by the committee.
11:02 a.m: Guingona now questions Napoles of the 20 bogus non-government organizations that she built according to the whistleblowers. However, she denied the statements while adding that Magdalena Luy Lim Foundation is the only NGO she formed for their outreach projects.
Whistleblowers: “Nagsisinungaling po siya,” referring to Napoles denials on the fake NGOs.
According to the statements of whistleblowers, Napoles used her company to transact with the government and lawmakers. But Napoles continues to disagree.
11: 16 a.m: Napoles: “Nakakaawa po ‘yung mga senador na na-drag ‘yung mga pangalan.”
11:21 a.m: The committee asking about lawmakers’ alleged kickbacks. On the statements of whistleblower Benhur Luy, Napoles has told them to make vouchers for the senators’ kickback. However, Napoles denied the accusation again.
“Sa tingin niyo, kung mga ganung kickback tulad ng sinabi niyo, do you think ‘yung mga chief of staff pipirma ng mga ganung voucher?” Napoles asked.
However, Luy and Marina Sula, another whistleblower, said that they really did the voucher to be used for kickbacks. The whistleblowers also add that Napoles told them to shred the documents to get rid of evidence connected to the pork barrel scam.
When asked who received the alleged kickbacks, Luy said that he saw lawmakers who visit Napoles’ office to receive the money including Congressman Valdez, Atty. Richard Cambe, Ruby Tuason, and Pauline Labayen. There are also times that he personally gave the kickback to some lawmakers or to their representatives when the voucher was already signed by Napoles.
12:15 a.m: Sen. Miriam Santiago arrives at the Senate hall. She thanks the committee for allowing her to speak earlier as she is sick.
Santiago also acknowledges Napoles, “Oh there you are. Let me take a good look at you.”
The senator then proceed to discuss jurisprudence regarding about right to self-incrimination. She also remind Napoles that she is under oath.
“I will not bully you. I remind you Ms. Witness, wala kang karapatang magsabi ng kasinungalingan. Kasi pag nagsinungaling ka, lagot ka, nagsumpa ka eh,” Santiago said of Napoles.
Santiago also said that Napoles shouldn’t be provided with public lawyers because it is only for the poor and those who can’t afford an attorney.