DOJ requests extension of time to comply with Subpoena: Senator Guingona denies request with respect to Napoles list

16 May 2014

In a letter dated 14 May 2014,  Secretary of Justice LEILA M. DE LIMA requested a one week extension within which to comply with the Subpoena issued by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, which directed the Department of Justice to submit the Napoles List/Affidavit on the 'PDAF Scam' on or before 15 May 2014.

The request was made in order to await the completion and submission of the comprehensive Affidavit of JANET LIM NAPOLES, which the DOJ expects to contain her narration of facts pertaining to all those named in the signed list from Mrs. Napoles. This came after it was made known to the DOJ that, despite efforts of Napoles and her counsel to work overtime at the Ospital ng Makati (where Napoles is convalescing after a major surgery), they would need more time to complete and submit such Affidavit, presumably due to the breadth and scope of her narration. The DOJ made the request in the belief that another week is not an unreasonably long period of time considering that Napoles's Sworn Statement is expected to cover several years of various transactions with numerous personalities.

Reasoning "that a complete  Affidavit, signed and sworn to by Mrs. Napoles, would at least have whatever credence could be accorded to any allegation of fact made under  pain of perjury," Secretary De Lima appealed to the  consideration and wise circumspection of the Committee through its Chairman, Senator  TEOFISTO "TG" GUINGONA III, whom she implored to understand that awaiting said Sworn Statement would be "better than a mere list that stands by itself, without even a narrative that would inform those named therein (and the public) of what acts are actually being imputed against them." She went further by assuring the Committee, not just of the DOJ's full intent to comply with the Subpoena, but also to personally update the Committee Chairman on the progress of the preparation of the Affidavit during the period of extension.

Despite such appeal, however, Senator Guingona denied the request, thus compelling the DOJ to submit yesterday the List from Napoles despite expressly stated reservations.

Secretary De Lima also requested that, instead of disclosing the list and the still unverified allegations to the public, the Committee might consider either awaiting the completion of the vetting process or fact-finding investigation by the DOJ/NBI, or itself referring the documents it has gathered to the Ombudsman or the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC).

According to Secretary De Lima:

"Finally, and begging the Honorable Chairman's indulgence, I am compelled to express my opinion that the proper administration of justice would still be best served by a regular fact-finding investigation of Mrs. Napoles's allegations, involving the gathering and collation of the same amount of voluminous documents that supported the filing of the appropriate criminal complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman, which are already undergoing either further fact-finding investigation by the Ombudsman's Field Investigation Office (FlO) or preliminary investigation by a Panel of Special Investigators/ Prosecutors.

"... [I]t is beyond cavil that this is a matter of grave public concern that is best addressed by a thorough investigation, as such would strike a careful balance between the collective interest of the Filipino people in ensuring that the persons responsible be brought to justice, and the interests of those implicated in ensuring that they are accorded some measure of protection from yet-to-be-validated accusations."

Apparently denying such request as well, Senator Guingona went ahead and released a copy of the signed List from Napoles to the media right after his meeting with Secretary De Lima, who personally delivered her letter to him yesterday afternoon.

According to Secretary De Lima, "I had hoped that considerations of prudence would have persuaded Senator Guingona to exercise patience in waiting for the completion of the Affidavit of Mrs. Napoles. But what has been done is done.

"At this point and absent further statements from Mrs. Napoles clarifying exactly what facts she is alleging in relation to the list, I just hope that those who view said list takes it for what it is: a list of names. Aside from those whose alleged participation is supported by evidence gathered and already on-record before the NBI or the Ombudsman, the inclusion of the other names cannot even be characterized as true or false, at this point, because we don't exactly know what Mrs. Napoles is accusing them of.

"This List does not represent the Truth per se. It would take further investigation and painstaking collection of evidence - as what was done before complaints were filed before the Office of the Ombudsman - before we arrive at the Truth. But, as I have said before, the Truth can be revealed in unexpected ways, and even from unexpected sources. It is our job in the DOJ to ferret it out, even if we have to wade through rivers of lies and scale seemingly impenetrable walls of silence."

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