MANILA, Philippines - Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago could not hide her dismay at Malacañang's move to form the 'Truth Commission', whose mandate from President Benigno Aquino III is to investigate anomalies linked to the past administration.
Santiago asserted Monday that Congress, not the Palace, has the power to create such bodies.
"Show me where in the Constitution is there a general provision their power to create an office. Show me a law passed by Congress that gives you the power to create agencies!" she told reporters.
But Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is standing by the legality of Executive Order Number 1.
De Lima said the Truth Commission is no different from those created by the past administration, like the Feliciano Commission, which investigated the Oakwood mutiny; the Melo Commission, for media killings; and the Mayuga Commission, which probed into the allegations of electoral fraud committed by military generals in the 'Hello, Garci' scandal.
"It's within the powers of the President, as the chief administrator, enforcer of laws," she said.
Santiago said she is ready to take the matter all the way to the Supreme Court.
"Dapat naman sana may konting humility, na hindi tayo lalaban nang lalaban basta't gusto natin... Executive Order 1 is a usurpation of legislative function, and we who are in the legislative branch are bound and duty to oppose this usurpation, even if have to go to Supreme Court," she said.
Santiago added that the Truth Commission's powers and functions are redundant with the Office of the Ombudsman.
'Commission can investigate extrajudicial killings'
Malacañang, meanwhile, clarified that the commission is not necessarily limited to investigating anomalies linked to the Arroyo administration.
Presidential legal counsel Ed de Mesa told ANC that apart from corruption in government, the commission may also look into extrajudicial killings.
But De Mesa admitted the commission's power to summon private individuals to its investigation is limited.
"This Truth Commission we decided this to focus on economic crimes, because we already have the CHR [Commission on Human Rights]... But if Davide wants to conduct investigations on human rights in the past administration, they can do so," he said. With reports from Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News