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Diokno won’t attend House panel hearing on Friday

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 10:57 AM February 08, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno will not be attending the House hearing on Friday on issues hounding the proposed 2019 budget despite a subpoena ordering him to appear before the House appropriations committee.

“No, I am not,” Diokno told INQUIRER.net in a text message on Friday.

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“I take my duty to the people very seriously. It is only right to prepare in order to give the Filipino people a complete and clear picture on the matter,” he added.

In a statement, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said Diokno “sought a reset of the hearing scheduled Friday morning.”

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“In a letter to House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, while assuring Congress of cooperation, Diokno invoked the right of Department of Budget and Management (DBM) officials and staff to proper notice and a fair and just hearing,” the DBM said.

The agency cited that the subpoena was issued only on Thursday morning.

“The Subpoena Ad Testificandum signed by House Speaker Arroyo and  Committee on Appropriations chair Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr, was received by the DBM 11 am, Thursday morning with the hearing scheduled the next day, Friday at 10 am,” Diokno said.

While Diokno welcomed the House subpoena, DBM said “clearly there was no proper notice and not enough time to allow him and other DBM officials and staff to adequately prepare for the HoR hearing.”

Diokno invoked House of Representatives, citing Section 8 (3) of the Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation of the House of Representatives, which provides that “Subpoena shall be served to a witness at least three (3) days before a scheduled hearing in order to give the witness every opportunity to prepare for the hearing and to employ counsel, should the witness desire.”

In his letter to Arroyo, the DBM said Diokno “also requested to be furnished with a list of questions to be raised during the said inquiry, consistent with Supreme Court’s ruling in Neri vs. Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, et al. which reiterates an earlier ruling in Senate vs. Ermita:  “[T]he invitations should contain the possible needed statute which prompted the need for the inquiry, along with the usual indication of the subject of inquiry and the questions relative to and in furtherance thereof. Compliance with this requirement is imperative, both under Sections 21 and 22 of Article VI of the Constitution. This must be so to ensure that the rights of both persons appearing in or affected by such inquiry are respected as mandated by said Section 21 and by virtue of the express language of Section 22.”

“Whatever is the real purpose of the House in calling me, I will appear in Congress. However, I take my duty to the people very seriously. It is only right that we prepare in order to give the Filipino people a complete and clear picture of the matter, and avoid giving information that only suits a specific agenda. We are definitely cooperating but it is imperative that we be given the proper amount of time to prepare.” Diokno said.

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The DBM said it would submit to the Committee on Appropriations this Friday “copies of the documents being subpoenaed for its perusal and reference.”  /muf

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