Press Release
October 16, 2013

Speech of Senate President Franklin M. Drilon

Mr. President and dear Colleagues.

It will be recalled that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales cautioned us about calling pork barrel scam principal suspect Janet Napoles "at this time" before the Blue Ribbon Committee public hearings as it can create problems for the investigation being conducted by the Ombudsman.

Subsequently, upon the request of Sen. Teofisto Guingona, we wrote another letter, informing her of a request to a reconsideration of her decision and Ombudsman Carpio Morales reiterated that indeed, she is standing by her previous advise that it would be a prudent, at this time, not to call on Miss Napoles.

However, while she maintained her position of caution, she told us that she will defer to the collective judgement of this August body.

It is unfortunate that my decision to adhere to the advice of Ombudsman Morales --- to which I concurred at that time was the more prudent and responsible action to take to, ensure an orderly administration of justice --- has been misconstrued as an effort to hide the truth.

The public criticism that came our way has undoubtedly injured the image of the Senate before a public hungry to see Napoles being grilled in the Senate Halls.

My decision to defer the signing of the Napoles subpoena even created an opportunity for certain members of the opposition particularly those who seek to block our anti-corruption reforms, to conduct a media vilification campaign against me and the Aquino administration.

As the head of this institution, I must lead in restoring the confidence of our people in the Senate. All my life, I have always adhered to the rule of law. All my life, it has always been about justice.

As a former Justice Secretary, I have always believed in the paramount pursuit of justice.

I am therefore appalled that there are talks of cover-up. Mr President, I have never been a part of any cover-up and I will never be.

Therefore Mr. president, I wish to inform my colleague that I have decided to sign the subpoena requiring Napoles to appear before the senate and the blue ribbon committee.

I repeat, I have decided to sign the subpoena requested by Sen Guingona to require Napoles to appear before the Senate and the Blue Ribbon Committee.

I met earlier today Senate President Pro-Tempore Senator Ralph Recto, Majority Leader Senator Allan Peter Cayetano, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee. I have informed them that I have finally decided to sign the subpoena and compel Napoles to appear and testify before the Senate.

They are fully supporting this decision.

With this decision, let me emphasize that the Senate remains committed to the orderly administration of justice. We have a functioning justice system that will clear the innocent and punish the guilty. Our priority is to prosecute those involved and ensure that those who misused public funds will be held accountable for their actions. And those with no evidence and clearly innocent will be declared innocent and acquitted from these charges.

As your Senate President, I have always said that this Senate investigation will be relentless in searching for the truth. I consider the Pork Barrel Scam as a great injustice to the Filipino people.

The Senate as an institution has always been on the side of the truth. We saw this during the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona and other investigations against corruption especially during the Arroyo administration. Certainly, in this unprecedented case where even members of the Senate are allegedly involved, we will not shirk from our responsibility.

Ensuring that justice is upheld will always be the priority of this administration and that is the reason why we are now working towards holding accountable those who have taken advantage of the loopholes in the system.

As your elected legislators, we will see to it that no stone will be left unturned in enacting policy changes that will guarantee that this multi-billion pesos scam will never ever happen again.

With that, I am confident that I will have the support of the entire Senate, in this continuous quest, to seek the truth, to come out with the truth, and to make our justice system work.

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