OPPOSITION Senator Nancy Binay on Sunday expressed dismay over what she considers a blatant disregard of policies and processes by the members of the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee just to get what they want.
Binay particularly cited an incident that happened during a hearing last Thursday, when Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd forced the Commission on Audit (COA) to present to the committee preliminary findings of the commission on the construction of the Makati City Hall Building 2.
The senator said there seems to be a “script” being followed in the hearing because COA officials themselves, who were present at the hearing, who offered to the committee its incomplete findings on the questioned building.
Binay added that she remembered how strict COA chief Grace Pulido-Tan is when it comes to divulging information based on COA findings and that she may agree to bring a copy of a particular COA report but Tan will ask senators to wait until the report is completed.
“There was a time during one of the Senate hearings on PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) wherein the COA [head]refused to divulge the result of their findings in the Malampaya [probe]or even the 2010-2012 PDAF and just asked to wait for it to be completed,” Binay said in a radio interview aired over dzBB.
But in the case of the preliminary findings of COA in the Building 2 issue, Binay said, the agency brought a copy of the incomplete report and have it read during the hearing upon orders of the sub-committee chairman.
The process, the senator pointed out, should have been observed first, which is to wait for Makati City officials to respond to the initial findings of the commission.
It was COA Commissioner Jose Favia who informed the Senate panel that they brought with them the partial findings of COA but noted such findings are confidential since they are yet to get comments of the Makati officials.
But Pimentel said his committee cannot grant the request of COA, claiming that there is an overwhelming public interest in the issue.
Favia then asked Alexander Juliano, director-in-charge of COA’s Fraud Audit Office,to read the contents of the report before the committee despite knowing that the report is just for the internal consumption of the commission.
Before proceeding, Jualiano manifested his reservation since his office has not yet conducted a conference with the Makati city government.
“So I want to put on record my reservation regarding Republic Act (RA) 3019 particularly section 3(k), on premature disclosure,” he told the members of the sub-committee.
Section 3(K) of RA 3019 makes unlawful the “divulging [of] valuable information of a confidential character, acquired by his office or by him on account of his official position to unauthorized persons, or releasing such information in advance of its authorized release date.”
But Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano assured Juliano that there is no violation because he is not divulging the information to unauthorized persons and as an official subcommittee of the Senate it is within their powers to direct the COA to release the report to the public.
When asked about their next move, Binay said she would just leave legal matters to their lawyers.