Executive dept can’t bar private individuals from appearing in Senate: Sotto

Benise Balaoing, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 15 2021 03:42 PM

Watch more on iWantTFC

MANILA – The executive department cannot bar private individuals from appearing at the Senate inquiry into government's alleged overpriced pandemic transactions, Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto said.

His statement comes after President Rodrigo Duterte instructed officials to get his go signal before appearing at the said hearings.

“Ang maganda lang dito sa nangyayaring ‘yon, hindi naman pwedeng pigilan ng executive department yung mga hindi government officials. Ang pwede lang pigilan yung mga Cabinet officials,” Sotto said.

“Si Michael Yang hindi naman Gabinete yun, si Linconn Ong, tsaka itong si Christopher Lao hindi na siya gobyerno, nag-resign siya eh.”

Sotto stressed that the Constitution has granted the legislative branch of the government—of which the Senate is part—the power to conduct investigations in aid of legislation.

“Pinaalaala ko nga sa kanilang lahat na tayo, meron tayong tinatawag three branches of government, separation of powers yan eh. May power na sarili [ang] executive, meron ang judiciary, meron din ang legislative. Eh kami talaga merong power kami, binigay ng Constitution na mag-imbestiga.”

“Kasama sa trabaho namin ‘yan. Kaya ‘pag sinabi niyong gawin niyo yung trabaho niyo, ginagawa namin,” he stressed.

Sotto said the Senate will wrap up its investigation once it uncovers more evidence on the alleged anomalous transactions. 

“Palagay ko, kung medyo mas malinaw-linaw na, kasi sa ngayon, ang description ni Senator (Richard) Gordon sa mga pangyayari, sumabog na yung paksiw. Talagang bulatlat na eh. Ang palagay ko, matatapos na ito kung magkakaroon ng mas clearer o harder evidence sa may mga anomalyang nangyari."

He also said the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's report on the proceedings may recommend the filing of charges against individuals involved in the allegedly dubious deals.

"Nakatitiyak ako na ganoon ang magiging laman ng committee report. Ang importante dito, pagkatapos nitong imbestigasyon na ‘to, makapaghanda kami ng magandang legislation para maituwid ito at hindi na maulit," he said.

"Pangalawa, tatapusin namin yung committee report, kailangan pag-usapan namin sa floor para maging plenary approval, at pag nag-plenary approval, Senate report yun. At yun, binabasehan lagi ng Ombudsman yun. Lahat ng mga committee report dati namin, lahat ng imbestigasyon namin na pinasa namin on the floor, ay binabasehan ng Ombudsman."

Going forward, Sotto is eyeing legislation that will limit how much government agencies can transfer to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) for their needs.

“Ang tingin ko, isa sa malinaw na maaaring maging batas--isa pa lang ano, hindi ko pa sigurado yung iba--magkakaroon ng limitasyon ang pwedeng galawin ng procurement service ng DBM."

"Like for example mga stapler, mga paper clip, mga ganyan, yun yung mga common na gusto ng departamento. Tulad ng Senado, bibili kami, hindi kami bibili on our own. Hahayaan na doon sa DBM, doon kami kukuha sa kanila para pare-parehong presyo,” he explained.

“Ngayon ‘pag bilyones pinag-uusapan dito, eh teka muna ay palagay ko yun yung isa sa mga isyu na matatamaan sigurado sa aming proposed bills,” he said. 

---TeleRadyo, 15 September 2021