Senate won’t implement dismissal order against Villanueva
The Senate will not implement the dismissal order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman against neophyte Sen. Joel Villanueva because the office lacks jurisdiction over members of Congress.
The Office of the Ombudsman issued the order last November after finding Villanueva guilty of of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the interest of service over his alleged involvement in a P10-million pork barrel scam when he was still a member of the House of Representatives.
Sotto also chairs the Senate committee on rules, which had been tasked by Senate President Aqulino “Koko” Pimentel III to take appropriate actions on the issue.
“After a careful and meticulous study on the arguments and accompanying recommendations rendered by the Senate legal counsel, as the chair of the committee on rules, may I move that the august chamber adopt the opinion and recommendations by the Senate legal office in its entirety,” he said.
“Any objection? There being none, the motion is approved,” Pimentel said.
In a 15-page opinion dated Nov. 17, 2016, the legal counsel said the dismissal order against Villanueva “cannot and should not be implemented on both procedural and substantive grounds.”
Cruz pointed out that rules of the Office of the Ombudsman itself clearly state that members of Congress are exempted from its administrative authority, in particular Section 21 of Republic Act No. 6770, known as the Ombudsman Act of 1989, and Section 2, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman.
“Section 21 of R.A. No. 6770, and Section 2, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman are very clear and there is no room for interpretation but only for application,” Cruz said.
The legal counsel also invoked the Rules of the Senate authorizing it to discipline or penalize its own members and the principle of separations of powers contained in the Constitution.
“It is the Senate and only the Senate, acting in accordance with its rules of proceedings, and only after the recommendation of the committee on ethics and privileges and the concurrence of two-thirds of its members, which can impose a penalty of either suspension of expulsion on any one of its members,” she said.
The Office of the Ombudsman, Cruz said, could not compel the Senate to implement the penalties against Villanueva. –ATM
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