“I invoke my right against self-incrimination.” Such statement (and its variations) were better heard from Janet Lim- Napoles, than her former favorite “Hindi ko alam” (I don’t know), at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing today.
This nationwide live telecast trial on the controversial abuse of 10 Billion (Filipinos’ taxes) Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) was moving rather sluggishly until Senator Miriam Santiago stepped in. She explained to Napoles, the alleged Pork Barrel Scam Queen, that statement means she does know something but refuses to talk as she does not want her knowledge to be used against her. Prior to this, Senate Chairman Teofisto Guingona III did not get much cooperation from Napoles as she responded evasively to most of his queries.
The public trial suddenly became more informative, intriguing, and kind of funny as Senator Santiago took her turn getting more information from Napoles (outwitting Guingona), exposing Napoles’ rags-to-riches life, while bravely striking explosive remarks against her critics.
For a blow-by-blow recap of this Senate hearing, read here >>
Meantime, here are my takeaways after witnessing this ordeal on TV:
1. Change-catalysts confront and correct people. The Pork Scam whistleblowers and Senator Santiago exhibited wisdom and guts, standing up for what’s right, and telling the whole truth. Their lives were put on the line by their bravery but they took the risk anyway.
2. Money speaks and maneuvers events – but it can only do so much. The Senate hearing exposed Napoles’ attempt to arrange for a settlement as Levito Baligod, whistleblower Benhur’s legal counsel, said Napoles offered to pay P250M-P300M for them to drop the case against her.
3. Restraining the truth and telling lies only complicate matters. Obviously, Napoles evaded the Senators’ questions with her cautious and short answers. Santiago implied earlier that there is someone (or a group of people) “most guilty” in this case than Napoles. She advised Napoles to expose the whole truth and the Senator/s involved before she might get assassinated – probably the best advice she could have gotten from the prosecution side.
Family, friends, and countrymen, let’s pray for truth and justice to prevail in Napoles’ Senate Hearing.