Santiago’s probe on Rico Puno questionedBy Maila Ager
MANILA, Philippines – The validity of the Senate investigation on resigned Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno has been put in question as a number of senators raised some problems that may arise from the inquiry, a senator said on Thursday.
The investigation by the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, revisions of codes and law headed by Senator Miriam_Defensor Santiago is set to kick off at 10:30 a.m. on Friday.
Santiago wants to investigate the circumstances behind Puno’s appointment. She said Puno had the “unique, if not anomalous” authority to control the PNP during the incumbency of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo.
Santiago said she would like to “unmask” the influential person or group that exerted “severe pressure” on the President to appoint Puno as undersecretary and give him powers over the PNP that, according to her, were reserved only for the department secretary.
But Santiago pushed for the investigation of Puno even without a Senate resolution, a move some senators did not like.
“Hindi sinasabing hindi valid (We’re not saying it’s not valid). But may mga questions. Kailangan i-resolve din ng Senado yan kung valid ang pagdinig na gagawin o hindi (The Senate has to resolve also whether or nor it is valid). But at least this is a sentiment of the majority of the senators, mukhang may problema talaga(it appears there really is a problem),” Senator Panfilo Lacson told reporters.
Lacson said the Senate rules were clear that there should be a resolution or a privilege speech that should be referred to a committee.
“It is not one chairman deciding to refer to his or her committee kung ano man ang issue ang na-raise sa floor (whatever issues were raised on the floor). Ang nagre-refer, ang buong Senate. So yan ang nakikita kong problema (The one that refers is the entire Senate. So that’s the problem),” he said.
“Kung walang resolution o walang (If there’s no resolution or there’s no) privilege speech and, therefore walang (no) referral,” he added.
Under the rules, Lacson said only the Senate blue ribbon committee and committee on rules are allowed to conduct hearing motu propio.
Despite this, the senator said he would not block or stop Santiago’s from conducting her investigation on Puno.
But should the hearing push through, Lacson raised another problem that might arise when sources invited in the hearing would not appear and the committee decides to subpoena them.
Lacson said only Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile can sign the subpoena.
He added that for example if there are contempt charges being contemplated, it’s only Senate as a whole body which can issue the contempt case.