‘Napoles list damaging’

Ping fears Senate may collapse; Chiz disagrees

REHABILITATION czar Panfilo Lacson said Sunday the list given him by the family of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles is imbued with national security concerns because it may leave the Senate a “total wreck” if it is revealed to the public.

Senator Francis Escudero disputed this view, however, saying the public should be wary of attempts by Napoles to sow confusion and create havoc in the pork barrel investigation.

“We should not be deceived by what she is doing because I have even heard that she would even talk about national security. How can Napoles be [a] national security [issue]? I can’t see it,” said Escudero.

Opposition lawmakers, meanwhile, accused Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and other allies of President Benigno Aquino III of blocking a parallel investigation by the House into the pork barrel scam.

In an interview over radio dzBB, Lacson said the list contains the names of incumbent and former senators, congressmen and government officials linked by Napoles to the scam.

“You can just imagine if this list comes out, the trust of the public [in the Senate] would be eroded,” said Lacson, a former senator.

He said this would have grave national security implications because of the large number of senators implicated in the scheme in which lawmakers allegedly channeled their pork barrel to bogus projects set up by Napoles in exchange for kickbacks.

Lacson said there would be no national security concern if only a handful of senators were involved. But because there are 16, the Senate as an institution could be torn down, he said.

An even larger number of congressmen from the House of Representatives are on the same list, Lacson added.

Because of this, Lacson said, he said the Napoles list should be revealed in an executive session in the Senate, behind closed doors.

About a month after he received his draft list, Napoles gave another list to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. Neither Lacson nor De Lima have divulged the contents of the list, however.

Lacson said if he were summoned to the Senate, he would ask for an executive session to hand over the documents in his possession.

He warned that many incumbent senators are in the list, although in some cases, there are no documents to support the allegations made against them.

Lacson said it would be best for the Senate to summon Napoles, the source of the lists.

“If they can compel her to speak, they can get everything she knows,” Lacson said.

Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee investigating the pork barrel scam, said he will call a Senate caucus today to discuss the list.

Three opposition senators, Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. are already facing plunder charges after they were implicated by principal whistleblower Benhur Luy and others who worked for Napoles.

Despite mounting pressure, De Lima has refused to make the list public until the allegations are validated.

This has triggered suspicions that the administration is sanitizing the list to protect its allies.

Before sending a media advisory on today’s caucus, Guingona had earlier said he will only reopen the pork barrel hearing and invited Napoles once De Lima submits the Napoles list to his committee. Some senators, however, have insisted that he need not wait for the list and can reopen the hearings and summon De Lima.

In the House, United Nationalist Alliance secretary general and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco accused Belmonte and administration allies of blocking a parallel investigation into the scandal.

“What are the administration allies afraid of? It is the integrity and reputation of the legislature that are at stake here, and we’re just here on the sidelines silently watching the show,” Tiangco said.

Tiangco said there should be an honest, objective and above-board investigation of those members of Congress mentioned in the Napoles Lis” to give them a chance to defend themselves and clear their names.

Last week, Tiangco filed a resolution requesting Congress, in aid of legislation, to conduct a full investigation based on the affidavit executed by Napoles.

“House leaders and administration allies were lukewarm to the proposal citing a parallel probe would only duplicate the efforts of the Senate,” Tiangco said.

Tiangco said if the Administration were indeed serious in its campaign to rid the government of corruption, then Congress should also do its share in exposing even administration allies who have misused government funds.

“Congress is not barred from making its own parallel investigation. It has been done before,” he said.

“Preventing any initiative to conduct an investigation or inquiry is like the House condoning the illicit practice of corruption, and letting the guilty get away with murder,” Tiangco said.

In his resolution, Tiangco said the House should compel De Lima to furnish them with a copy of Napoles’ affidavit and the list of names.

Some members of Congress have filed similar resolutions urging the House committees on public accountability and ethics to look into the pork barrel controversy, which they described as “criminal plunder.”

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