The Senate blue ribbon committee cannot force Vice President Jejomar Binay to attend its inquiry into the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2, according to a prominent lawyer.
Romulo Macalintal said in a press statement that under the doctrine of separation of powers, Congress “cannot subpoena or compel the President to appear before it to answer an investigation conducted by any of its committees. If Congress cannot subpoena the President, then the same should be applied to Vice President Jejomar Binay considering that the Office of the Vice President is regarded as a component of the executive department of the government.”
Binay can choose not to attend the hearing since only an “invitation,” not a subpoena, was sent to him, Macalintal added.
“The pendency of a plunder case against him before the Ombudsman which involves the same transaction further justifies his non-appearance in the Senate,” he said.
Binay knows that it will be “political suicide to attend such investigation since it is now turning out to be a political show rather than an inquiry in aid of legislation,” Macalintal noted.
“His detractors who are conducting the investigation had already said there is ‘direct testimony’ pointing to his alleged guilt–a prejudgment that practically denies him a fair and impartial hearing in the Senate.”
The testimonies of the witnesses “could only be treated as ‘evidence’ after giving Binay his lawful right to cross-examine the witnesses in a court of law which he could not do in the Senate as the same is not allowed in a congressional inquiry,” Macalintal said.