Press Release
October 17, 2006


Senate President Manny Villar, President of the Nacionalista Party, welcomes and commends the Supreme Courts (SC) unanimous decision (15-0 in favor of the Senate) on the petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by the Office of the Solicitor General on behalf of Philippine Commission on Good Government (PCGG) Chairman Camilo Sabio.

I am happy about the Supreme Courts decision. Actually, I have no doubt in my mind that the Senate will prevail in this issue. Even before the oral arguments last month, I already said that we didnt violate any law. We followed the rules and procedures that need to be followed, says Villar in a phone interview with journalists.

Villar adds, Also, this recent decision reaffirms our program or policy now in the Senate that whenever our authority as an institution is being challenged, we will defend it in a proper venue, in this case the Supreme Court. We will not let allow anyone or anything to clip the powers of the Senate.

By deciding that the PCGG has no absolute immunity, the Supreme Court once again exhibited that the Constitution should be upheld at all times and that it respects the legislative powers of the Senate especially on matters of national interests, cites Villar.

According to Villar, the SC decision recognizes the Senates right to cite for contempt anyone who refuses to attend its public hearings or inquiries. It should serve as a warning to government or public officials who undermines or challenges the Senates authority to conduct hearings. We will not think twice about exercising our given authority.

The SC decision, penned by Associate Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, repealed Section 40 of EO 1 which was used by PCGG Chairman Camilo Sabio as basis for snubbing Senate hearings. The decision cites, Respondent Senate committees power of inquiry relative to Senate Resolution 455 is upheld as PCGG chairman Camilo Sabio and commissioners Ricardo Abcede, Narciso Nario, Nicasio Conti, and Tereso Javier; and Manuel Andal and Julio Jalandoni, PCGG nominees to the Philcomsat Holdings Corp., as well as its directors and officers are ordered to comply with the subpoena issued by respondent Senate committees directing them to appear and testify in public hearings.

Villar further cites, Now, the PCGG officials have no more reason not to attend the public hearings of the Senate. Although its the call of the chairmen of the committees whether to continue the hearings, I think the PCGG should be given an opportunity to explain their side.

To recall, PCGG Chairman Sabio was cited for contempt and then arrested by the Senate last month for repeatedly snubbing summons from the Senate committees (Government Corporations & Public Enterprises and Public Services) conducting a probe on the supposed anomalous losses of PhilComSat.

The Supreme Court has also supported the Senate in previous issues with the Executive Department, with regards to Executive Order 464 and Presidential Proclamation 1017. It really goes to show that there is no fooling around with the High Court, also says Villar.

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