THE Senate should take a second look at how the powerful blue ribbon committee conducts its investigations that lately have become one-sided, former senator Joker Arroyo said on Sunday.
Arroyo, who used to head the blue ribbon panel, took note of the changes implemented by the Senate in the conduct of committee hearings. He particularly cited the decision of Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd allowing the creation of a sub-committee to handle the inquiry into the supposed overpriced Makati City hall building II.
The former lawmaker noted that in the past, sub-committees were created in order to take some load off the committee chairperson and to make sure that other issues were tackled by the panel.
Arroyo said there is no justification for the creation of a blue ribbon sub-committee because the panel does not have too many investigations.
“Why did they create a sub-committee? Is it because they could not get the whole committee?” he asked.
The blue ribbon sub-committee headed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd tackled the investigation on the controversial 11-storey Makati parking and office building worth P2.2 billion.
It was Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th who filed a resolution calling for a probe even if plunder complaints have been filed at the Office of the Ombudsman against Vice President Jejomar Binay, Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay and other city officials.
According to Arroyo, because of the changes on the Senate committee rules, the proceedings have become one-sided. He cited the new rules on quorum, non-submission of a committee report and continuous conduct of a hearing even if a similar case is already being handled by other investigative bodies like the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice (NBI).
Arroyo said under the new rules, a committee only needs two members to be able to constitute a quorum. The Blue Ribbon committee has 17 regular members and three ex-officio members.
The committee also ruled that any legislative proceedings cannot be stopped even if these cases are being prosecuted or pending at the Ombudsman or DOJ.
Another questionable rule imposed by the Senate is the non-submission of a committee report after the hearing is concluded, which happened on the inquiry into the priority development assistance fund (PDAF). Instead of coming up with a full report, the blue ribbon panel issued an incomplete draft of a report signed by several members.