Press Release
October 1, 2007

Villar scores criticism against Senate investigations

Senate President Manny Villar today said despite criticism against the holding of Senate investigations on questionable transactions of government, the Senate will continue to provide the forum to uncover the truth and expose personalities liable for illegal acts.

"At a time when agencies of government are too fearful to ask questions, the Senate remains uncowed by threats and intimidation. The Senate steps up and press public officials to address questions raised on suspicious deals of government. (Nakikita ko na marami sa ahensya ng gobyerno ngayon ang takot na takot na magtanong, masasabi ko na ang Senado na lang ang natitira na hindi natatakot na magtanong)," Villar said.

The Senate president made this statement during the flag-raising ceremony of the Senate, which officially starts the October-long celebration of the 91st anniversary of the Upper Chamber.

"If only to provide the ordinary Filipino a voice and through the senators they elected to office ask what they wanted to ask their leaders, investigations must go on," Villar stressed.

The Nacionalista Party president added that amid controversies, the people are looking for leaders and they look up at the Senate to provide them leadership.

Villar said the irregularities uncovered in the $ 329 million ZTE-National Broadband Deal, among a host of other exposes which transpired in Senate investigations in the past, emphasize the need for an independent institution such as the Senate.

"Spending hours scrutinizing a transaction is a small price to pay with the end in view of preventing a P16 billion loan from further burdening our people for years," Villar said.

Villar also said the legislative measures lined up for the approval of the Senate before the break is enough to disprove critics saying the Senate is spending too much time on investigation in expense of passing legislative measures.

"These investigations not only provide the forum to uncover the truth, these are also important in coming out with timely and effective legislation. That is why we are actively defending our right in the Supreme Court to continue holding these investigations," Villar said.

He added that at least four bills will be approved tonight, including the bill increasing the retirement benefits of justices and judges. At least ten measures will be approved before the Senate goes into a four-week recess. Villar said during the 13th Congress, the Senate approved a total of 169 legislative measures on third reading consisting of 51 measures of national application and 118 measures of local application while holding investigations on the P728-million Fertilizer Fund Scam, the Hello Garci controversy, and the North Rail Project. As an anniversary message, Villar urged Senate employees to take advantage of the attention the Senate has been getting today, to show the people that the Senate is an institution that can provide them leadership.

"Mahalaga na ang Senado ay maging halimbawa ng ahensya na hinahanap ng ating mamamayan. Naghahanap sila ng ahensya, na ikukumpara sa judiciary, sa lower house, at executive department. Magandang pagkakataon ito para maipakita natin na may pag-asa pa, na may institusyon na gagawin ang kanyang tungkulin para sa bayan," he said.

Villar said the Senate as an independent body should not only provide support to other branches of government but it should be in the frontline in pushing for reforms that will spell the difference to the people's lives.

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