Guingona belittles Ombudsman’s advice not to subpoena Napoles

MANILA, (PNA)– Senator Teofisto Guingona III on Wednesday belittled the advice of the Office of the Ombudsman not to subpoena controversial Janet Lim Napoles in the ongoing Senate inquiry into the alleged P10 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

”It was not order but only advice of the Ombudsman. It was an advice which we may or may not reject. It’s up for us in the Senate on what to do with it,” Guingona said in a radio dzRH interview.

Guingona said the Senate Blue Ribbon can still subpoena Napoles if Senate President Franklin Drilon will sign the Blue Ribbon’s request for Napoles to appear before the Senate inquiry into the pork scam.

”Unless the Senate President signs the subpoena, it will not become official,” the lawmaker from Mindanao said.

Guingona said he is willing to put his Blue Ribbon Committee chairmanship at stake in fighting for the Senate “supreme” authority to subpoena individual even with or without cases already filed in court.

”Of course I’m willing to defend my stand. I signed the subpoena. I believe we should bring Napoles to the committee to testify,” Guingona stressed.

Guingona, however, expressed support to the call by some of his colleagues to settle the issue in a caucus after Drilon favored the Ombudsman’s opinion.

”I’m not in favor that the Senate should get the opinion of any government agency on this matter. This is unprecedented that instead of signing the subpoena, he sought an advice of other agency,” he said.

Despite his opposition to Drilon’s stand, Guingona said he has still full faith and trust and confidence with the leadership of the Senate president.

”I think we just have to talk everything, have a meeting to thresh out the situation,” Guingona said.

With or without Napoles, Guingona said the scheduled Senate hearing on Thursday will push through after Drilon signed a subpoena asking the whistle blowers and Justice Secretary Laila de Lima to attend the investigation.

Last Tuesday, Guingona scolded De Lima for failure to keep her promise to bring the PDAF scam whistleblowers led by Benhur Luy.

De Lima invoked the Ombudsman rules when she opted not to bring the witnesses but Guingona explained the justice secretary has no right to invoke the Ombudsman “because you’re not the Ombudsman.”

De Lima apologized to the Blue Ribbon chairman and agreed to bring the whistleblowers to the next Senate hearing.