Press Release
February 15, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said there is no need for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos proposal for Congress and Malacañang to draw up the ground rules of decorum that would govern the appearance of Cabinet members during congressional hearings as a condition for the recall of Executive Order 464 banning them from attending such activity without her clearance.

Pimentel said the senators, in particular, are already guided by the internal rules of the Senate for conducting hearings and inquiries and treating resource persons and witnesses. On top of this, he said government officials, including members of Congress, should adhere to the Code of Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

He said it is wrong to say that the senators are insulting the Cabinet members and other officials of the executive branch if they try to grill these resource persons or guests on how they have spent the funds intended for their agency programs, specially in the face of serious allegations of anomalies involving their agencies.

What is wrong if we ask the Cabinet members how they spent the funds released to their agencies in the previous year? Why is Gloria preventing us from asking her Cabinet members to account for these funds when this is a legitimate question? This is not intended to insult anyone. But whoever feels insulted must be hiding something, the minority leader said.

Pimentel debunked the Presidents accusation that the investigations being conducted by the Senate, particularly on how billions of pesos in public funds for fertilizer subsidy and public works were diverted to the Arroyo election campaign in 2004, are in aid of destabilization.

She is merely playing with the meaning of that word. How can she accuse us of destabilization when we are trying to find out who are responsible for the massive stealing of public funds? he said.

Pimentel traced the root of the conflict to the persistence of Malacañang to hide the truth behind the allegations of cheating, stealing and lying hurled against the President that continue to cast doubts over her legitimacy.

He branded EO 464 as a crude attempt to clip the investigative powers of Congress in violation of the principle of checks and balance enshrined in the Constitution due to the Presidents desperation to save her tottering administration.

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