Lawmakers set probe of House raid in 2005
Lawmakers crossed party lines on Friday to seek a “thorough” inquiry into the purported substitution of fake for genuine election returns (ERs) at the Batasang Pambansa complex in 2005.
Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Fariñas said the inquiry should lead to the “punishment” of everyone who took part in the operation, while Isabela Representative Georgidi Aggabao pointed out that the crime could not have been done without the knowledge of the leaders of the 13th Congress.
But Jose de Venecia, who was the Speaker of the House of Representatives at that time, claimed that he and other leaders of the chamber were “totally [in] the dark” about the event.
De Venecia said that the ER switching was “rumored” in 2005 and that “when it was brought to our attention, I, as then Speaker of the House, immediately confronted the then House sergeant at arms, General Bayani Favic, to shed light on [the rumor].”
He said Favic, who had served 15 years in the House, “informed us that his in-House civilian security personnel, who are full-time employees of the [chamber], had no knowledge of the incident but that they would undertake an investigation.”
Directions from high up
“Now it turns out it is elements of the [Philippine National Police] principally responsible for the security of the House, who conducted the raid on the House, as revealed now by PNP officers,” De Venecia said, referring to the claims of Senior Superintendent Rafael Santiago and his team.
He said the PNP brass were getting directions from “a high political authority.”
But Aggabao said an insider was critical to the success of the operation.
“A sensitive operation of this kind would undoubtedly need clearance from high House officials,” Aggabao said.
Fariñas said an inquiry should be conducted not only in aid of legislation but also “to punish those who neglected their duties to allow such to happen, and to prevent a repetition thereof.”
“More than any other body, it is the House of Representatives that is most concerned on this matter,” he said.
House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. would order a thorough investigation of the security breach to determine if other members of the chamber were part of the conspiracy.
Parañaque Representative Roilo Golez said the recent revelation of Santiago and his men was “a God-given opportunity to find closure to this case.”
“We have the opportunity to gather new evidence in a six-year-old break-in case without any need to exhume skeletal remains. The skeletons appear to be only in someone’s closet,” Golez said.
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