The Senate should impose sanctions on members of the Senate blue ribbon committee if they fail to come up with committee reports on their investigations.
The suggestion was made on Thursday by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. of Quezon City, as well as Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Dasmarinas (Cavite) and Sherwin Tugna of Citizens Battle Against Corruption party-list amid calls to abolish the blue ribbon panel “for wasting public funds on endless investigations.”
“No, I am not in favor of abolishing it. We need a blue ribbon committee. The Senate can just always provide restraints on it,” Belmonte, a lawyer, said in a text message.
“Abolition is not the proper remedy,” he added.
If a member of the legislature was remiss in performing his duties as committee chairman and/or member, the Senate could impose appropriate sanctions such as removal from the committee, reprimand, even suspension and/or removal, depending on the gravity of malfeasance,” Barzaga, vice chairman of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, said.
The Senate blue ribbon panel is investigating alleged over-pricing of the Iloilo Convention Center, a pet project of Senate President Franklin Drilon.
But it is the panel’s sub-committee that has been conducting marathon hearings also on the allegedly overpriced P2 billion Makati City Hall Building 2 and Vice President Jejomar Binay’s reported habit of pocketing kickbacks out of Makati City’s infrastructure projects.
The sub-committee is headed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd with Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes 4th as members.
Barzaga said legislative investigations are constitutionally mandated procedures in crafting laws and, as such, cannot be dispensed with.
Tugna is also opposed to scrapping the blue ribbon committee but pitched a caveat: The panel should set a deadline for submission of committee reports on its investigations.
“So as to maintain the people’s trust reposed in the Senate as an institution, [its]committees should set a deadline to come up with a committee report. In the absence of a specific period of time, it should be within a reasonable period from the date of the termination of the investigation,” Tugna, the House deputy majority leader,” said.
“Otherwise, the whole proceedings will be looked upon with cynicism,” he added.