MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – Senator Miriam Santiago criticized government officials who did not attend today's hearing on the alleged corruption in the purchase of firearms by the Philippine National Police.
At the beginning of the Senate hearing, Santiago read the letter furnished by the Office of the President, stating the reason for the absence of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, newly appointed Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje.
Santiago said President Aquino appears to have prevented the Cabinet members from attending the Senate hearing.
A portion of the letter, signed by Ochoa, said: "While the President believes there should be utmost cooperation between the independent braches of government, his Excellency likewise believes in the importance of enusuring the success and productive outcome of any hearing in aid of legistlation. In light of this, we endeavor to obtain details regarding the comittee hearing to guide the members of the Cabinet."
"Neither have we been furnished with the list of the committee's questions to guide the invited resource persons," the letter further stated.
Present in today's hearing are Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, Senior Superintendent Joel Pagdilao of Quezon City Police, PNP Chief Nicanor Bartolome, Jocelyn Jose of Trust Trade, National Police Commission Vice Chairman Eduardo Escueta, and DILG Special Assistant Isoceles Potero.
Only Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Koko Pimentel joined Santiago.
Meanwhile, Santiago also criticized those who are questioning her jurisdiction over the case.
She said she does not need to file a resolution on the matter since she is already the chair of the committee on constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws.
" As long as you have competent jurisdiction, you can on your own order an investigation… Hindi ba sila marunong magbasa? I'm not going to educate these people," she said.