Press Release
August 3, 2010

Drilon belittles criticisms against creation of Truth Commission

"What's the brouhaha all about?"

This was the question poised by Liberal Party National Chairman Senator Frank Drilon as he dismissed criticism on the legality of President Noynoy Aquino III's Executive Order No. 1 creating the Truth Commission.

"I cannot comprehend these criticisms against creation of the Truth Commission by allies of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo because President Arroyo herself created by executive fiat not one, but four commissions, during her time in Malacanang," Drilon said.

At the same time, Drilon echoed the statement of Malacanang that it was ready to defend the legality of the creation of the Truth Commission before the Supreme Court.

"Nobody can stop them from questioning the legality of the creation of the Truth Commission before the Supreme Court," Drilon said. "But I am confident the High Tribunal will uphold Malacanang's position on this."

On Monday, lawyer Raul Lambino, legal counsel of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Lakas-Kampi-CMD party, said they will question before the Supreme Court the legal basis for creating the Philippine Truth Commission, a body set up to investigate alleged misdeeds during Arroyo scandal-wracked administration.

"The creation of the Truth Commission under the Aquino administration is no different from the creation of the Feliciano Commission and the Melo Commission that were created through executive orders issued by President Arroyo," Drilon explained.

The Feliciano Commission was created to investigate the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny in Makati while the Melo Commission was created to investigate the spate of media killings during the Arroyo administration.

Aside from the Feliciano and Melo Commissions, Drilon added, President Arroyo also issued executive orders creating the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission and the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group.

"These commissions basically have the same powers, the same functions including a same source of funding which is the President's Contingent Fund," Drilon said. "Under the 2010 General Appropriation Act, the funding for the Truth Commission can be taken from the President's Contingent Fund."

On the need for legislation, Drilon said "the enactment of a law will depend on the extent of the authority granted to a commission."

Drilon also pointed out that during the Arroyo presidency, a total of P4.2 billion were appropriated by the Department of Budget and Management for the funding of the commissions a number of which "were created by President Arroyo through executive fiat and not by legislative action."

In Malacanang, Presidential legal adviser Eduardo de Mesa insisted that the EO creating the Truth Commission was constitutional, asserting PresidentAquino's power to create the commission.

"As far as we are concerned, it's not illegal. No doubt about its legality," De Mesa said responding to threats by Aquino's critics to take the issue before the court.

De Mesa argued that the commission was just a "reorganization" of an office under the Office of the President (OP), even pointing out several existing agencies which are either "dormant" or have never been terminated or disbanded.

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