Sen. Bong Revilla pleased with Napoles testimony, though admits it fell short
“'Di ko po alam,” and “I invoke my right against self-incrimination,” was all alleged pork-barrel scam operator Janet Lim-Napoles was willing to offer a Senate inquiry into the scam, as well as an incensed public that has been staging rallies to protest the disappearance of billions in pesos of government funds.
Janet Napoles presents herself to the Senate. Janet Lim-Napoles takes her oath before testifying at a Senate inquiry into the alleged P10B pork barrel scam on Thursday, November 7. Benjie Castro
Napoles repetition of these two phrases during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing last Thursday was lambasted and lampooned throughout social media, with the public openly displaying its irritation over the businesswoman's seeming attempt to stonewall the investigation.
But not everyone was irritated. Senator Bong Revilla—one of the three senators enmeshed in the pork barrel scam and who also did not attend the hearing—found Napoles' testimony, such as it was, beneficial.
“Para sa kanya, maganda naman ang kinalabasan, no,” said Atty. Joel Bodegon, Revilla's legal counsel, in a "24 Oras" report. “I think she was doing her best to present the truth from her side.”
Indeed, Napoles remarked that she felt sorry for the three senators—Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Revilla—implicated in the scam. The three, among 37 other lawmakers, have been slapped with a plunder case by the Department of Justice.
In a separate interview, Revilla himself said he was gladdened by Thursday's committee hearing.
“Finally, humarap na siya, nagsalita siya, at nanggaling sa bibig niya mismo na, kumbaga, wala siyang dealings with us,” said Revilla. “Siyempre, kahit paano, natuwa tayo diyan.”
However, the senator also admitted that he found Napoles's testimony lacking.
“Magsalita pa siya kung meron pa siyang tinatago—ilabas na niya lahat, 'di ba?” he said in a different "24 Oras" report. “Mahabang proseso pa 'to, mahabang labanan sa korte. Hindi naman matatapos lang 'yun sa Senado. Sa atin lang, eh, sana huwag muna tayong husgahan ng sambayanan.”
However, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano was irate over the non-testimony and recommended that the 50-year-old businesswoman be held in contempt and for perjury—lying under oath.
“Kulang na lang eh, humaba yung ilong niya habang nagsasalita siya doon kahapon,” remarked Cayetano.
The senator added that he was not looking to give Napoles a slap on the wrist. “So ibig sabihin, kung dalawampung beses siya nagsinungaling... at bibigyan siya ng six months [of jail time] per count of perjury, 'di ba, 10 years din 'yun.”
For the next hearing, Cayetano has no interest in calling Napoles in for questioning a second time. He was more intent on what her husband, retired marine major Jimmy Napoles, might have to say.
“Doon sa asawa, pag hindi tama ang invocation, pwede naming i-contempt at ikulong,” said Cayetano.
Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III mentioned that they may also call on the chiefs-of-staff of the senators embroiled in the scandal to testify before the committee.
But no matter whether Napoles uttered truths or lies, legal expert Professor Rowena Daroy-Morales of the UP College of Law believes that the so-called “Pork Barrel Queen” both won and lost that day in the Senate.
“She won insofar as the objectives of the Senate—to get information—is concerned,” said Morales as she ticked off each point. “She lost in the eye of the public opinion court in deciding who is the more credible person: the whistleblowers, or siya.”
Morales also believes that the Senators were much too hostile in their approach to Napoles. They will have to regroup and develop a new strategy which can wring information from the tight-lipped businesswoman. — Vida Cruz/DVM, GMA News