'Evasive' Napoles won't spill the beans

Louis Bacani - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles consistently invoked her right against self-incrimination when quizzed by senators during the pork barrel scam hearing on Thursday.

During the resumption of the Blue Ribbon Committee investigation, senators failed to obtain valuable information from Napoles, who refused to answer several questions regarding the alleged multi-billion peso racket.

Instead, Napoles repeatedly invoked her right against self-incrimination, saying she is already facing charges before the Office of the Ombudsman and the Bureau of Internal Revenue in connection with the pork barrel scam.

"May pending case na po so dun na lang namin sasagutin," Napoles responded to a senator's question.

Napoles was interrogated by committee chairman Teofisto Guingona III and Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Alan Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, Bam Aquino, JV Ejercito and Grace Poe Llamanzares.

In answering some of the senators' queries, Napoles would even say "I can't remember" or "I don't know."

"Selective ang memory ninyo ha," Guingona told Napoles. "There seems to be an evasiveness."

Reveal everything

The senators who attended Thursday's hearing urged Napoles to bare her knowledge, but only to get nothing from the businesswoman.

"Patunayan ninyo, Mrs. Napoles, na nagkakamali sila sa kanilang iniisip. Pagkakataon ninyong makatulong sa bayan. Ang payo ko: huwag ninyong sayangin ang pagkakataong ito," Guingona asked Napoles.

Santiago even told Napoles to tell the truth now before the officials linked to the pork barrel scam have her slain.

"This is a friendly tip from a lawyer," Santiago told Napoles. "Tell the truth before the senators affected will have you assassinated."

Napoles denies allegations

The suspected pork barrel scam mastermind came face to face with whistle-blowers Benhur Luy, Gertrudes Luy, Marina Sula, Merlina Suñas, Simonette Briones and Mary Arlene Baltazar.

The whistle-blowers repeated their allegations and narrated during the hearing how the alleged pork barrel scam operated and how public funds supposedly ended up inside Napoles' and lawmakers' pockets.

But as expected by some, Napoles belied the accusations of the whistle-blowers and maintained that she is innocent.

Napoles insisted during the hearing that she did not set up bogus non-government organizations and denied of having any dealing with the pork barrel and the Malampaya funds.

She also denied having knowledge in the fertilizer fund scam during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and knowing the legislators allegedly involved in the controversies.

"Nagsisinungaling po siya," Luy told the senators in one of his responses to Napoles's denials.

When asked by Llamanzares if she would spill the beans if granted with immunity as a state witness, Napoles said in Filipino: "There is no scam, no reason for me to turn state witness."

Executive session

Before the hearing started this morning, Napoles sought for an executive session instead of having a public hearing due to the "sensitivity of the issue."

But the senators rejected Napoles' request.

"Magkakaroon ng duda (ang publiko) na bakit tayo-tayo lang ang nag-usap," Cayetano told Napoles.

Guingona also said that the request could not be granted because the pork barrel issue does not involve matters of national security.

Related story: Napoles request for executive session denied

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