Ligots' absence irks senators

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 24 2011 10:48 AM | Updated as of Mar 24 2011 10:57 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Thursday asked the Senate doctor to examine former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot and his wife, Erlinda, after they refused to come to the Senate hearing due to illness.

Enrile ordered the Senate doctor to go posthaste to the Ligots' residence to determine if they are indeed sick before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee accepts the manifestation of their lawyer.

"If they are not [sick], I regret we will have to exercise our coercive power to see to it that this institution will function properly as an instrument of the people for good not for evil..to exact obedience if necessary," he said during Thursday's hearing.

"We will exercise to see to it that no one can make a fool of this Senate," he added.

In a letter to Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Teofisto Guingona III, Atty. Rafael Zialcita--the Ligots' lawyer--said Mrs. Ligot is suffering from "severe palpitations and acute gastroenteritis." Retired Gen. Ligot, meanwhile, "is now down with the flu."

Guingona said the committee will subpoena the Ligots in the next hearing after they failed to present medical certificates for their condition. Instead of medical certificates, he said the Ligots' submitted their doctors' prescriptions.

The senator said he will also subpoena the doctors who issued the prescriptions.

"We will warn all physicians as to the whimsical use of medical certificates. There is a Revised Penal Code provision on the issuance of false medical certificates. We will hold any physician accountable and we will not hesitate to prosecute any doctor who issues false medical certificates," Guingona said.

Aside from the Ligots, other resource persons invited to Thursday's hearing also failed appear.

Former Armed Forces chief of staff Roy Cimatu asked to be excused because he has an urgent trip to the province to attend to his ailing 90-year-old father.

Former military chief accountant Generoso del Castillo Jr. also failed to show up because he is suffering "flu-like symptoms."