We write to shed light on certain issues raised by Rigoberto Tiglao in his August 25, 2014 article titled “Senate is self-destructing.” While we respect and defend Tiglao’s right to air his assessment and political opinions, we wish to set the record straight on the context of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing held last August 20, 2014.
The Senate’s investigation into the issue of overpricing of a P1.56 billion was prompted by Senate Resolution No. 826 filed by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, and adopted by the upper chamber. The resolution was clear that the hearing’s sole intention and purpose is “to investigate, in aid of legislation, the alleged P1.601 billion overpricing of the 11-storey new Makati City Hall Building at the average cost of P240,000 per square and related anomalies purportedly committed by former and local officials.”
The investigation on an issue involving potential abuse of public funds, allegedly made possible by frailties in both law and government regulation, is a legitimate exercise by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee – whose exact mandate is to probe and share with the public possible cases of “malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance in office by officers and employees of the government.. and any matter of public interest on its own initiative or brought to its attention by any member of the Senate.”
As reflected in SRN 286, “it is the duty of the Philippine legislature to ensure bidding and procurement policies and procedures are adequate to prevent the abuse and misuse of public funds for illicit personal gain, as well as to ensure that public funds are used to benefit the Filipino people.”
We stress that during the Blue Ribbon Committee hearings, ample time was and will be provided to both panels in the spirit of full transparency. All senators are equally provided opportunities to flesh out facts and to seek the truth from the invited resource persons.
The Senate has acknowledged that its much treasured public image has taken a hit due to recent controversies, and that the institution needs to win back the nation’s trust through performing its duties. The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, as proven in the past, has always been on top of efforts to expose and end corruption in our democratic set-up, devoid of partisan influence. The August 20 hearing is no different, as the Filipino people will always have the right to demand truth and accountability about graft, corruption and plunder committed by those supposed to serve this nation and its people.
Print Media Director
Senate of the Philippines
Republic of the Philippines