Miriam: Napoles list story ‘fairy tale’ by Enrile
MANILA, Philippines – A “suspicious story,” a “fairy tale” and “creative fiction” was how Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago described a report naming her as among the lawmakers who allegedly received kickbacks in the pork barrel scam.
Instead of denying or confirming the report, Santiago said the best public reaction to the “tall tale spun by a small opposition newspaper” is “a sense of humor.”
She said her archenemy, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, was behind the report of the Daily Tribune, which she called an “obscure opposition newspaper."
“It’s amusing and it may even be creative but it is a waste of time. To foil the conspirators, let us simply go back to the basic principle that if a crime has been committed, there must be a punishment. Those who are charged with plunder should undergo trial. If convicted, they should go to jail for 30 years. That is the law and no fairy tale should serve to distract us,” she said in a statement on Friday, April 25.
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The report quoted sources supposedly privy to the affidavit of alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles. The newspaper said two Cabinet secretaries were the supposed real masterminds of the scam.
The report claimed that Napoles had also named Santiago, 8 other senators, and indicted senators Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr and Jinggoy Estrada.
Yet Santiago sought to discredit the report as part of a “massive disinformation campaign” against the Aquino administration.
She said the report “suspiciously” quoted an unnamed source and did not refer to any official document.
“An opposition newspaper with small circulation printed creative fiction punctuated by references to anonymous sources and absent any reference to any official documents of the [Commission on Audit] or any other source that are listed as evidence in the Rules of Court,” said Santiago.
She again said Enrile was the “brains and financier” of the alleged “psywar destabilization operation.”
Opposition senators Revilla, Estrada and Enrile face plunder charges for allegedly funneling pork barrel funds to Napoles’ bogus non-governmental organizations in exchange for kickbacks.
Napoles no longer credible witness
Santiago reversed her earlier statement, now saying that Napoles is no longer a credible witness.
Echoing Senate President Franklin Drilon, the former trial court judge cited the Rules of Court and said that documents are the best evidence.
“If any of the accusations against certain individuals are true, the accusation must be supported by an authenticated copy of a public record in the custody of the Commission on Audit or the budget department. The suspicious story does not refer to any such public record,” the senator said.
Santiago also cited the “parol evidence rule,” which means that “if there is a written document, the evidence is confined only to the written document and no other evidence can be admitted to modify the terms of the written document.”
“In the Rules of Court, there is no such thing as an invisible witness. In the rule of journalistic ethics, the court will not allow libel, which is defined as ‘reckless disregard of the truth’,” Santiago said.
Santiago said the story was released as Enrile is “clutching at straws” because he will be automatically suspended once the Ombudsman files plunder charges against him.
“Therefore we can conclude that this suspicious news story is just a concoction of the fevered brain of Enrile, whom the Ombudsman has resolved to be culpable for the crime of plunder,” she said.
Santiago added that it was “natural” that the names of Enrile’s enemies were included in the list: herself, and the two Cayetanos. “Remember, he denied us our Christmas bonus out of sheer spite.”
“[This is] the first in a scheduled barrage of stories against the Aquino administration intended to destabilize Metro Manila, and to divert national attention away from the plunder charges against Enrile and two other senators, Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Senator Ramon Revilla Jr,” Santiago said. – Rappler.com