Press Release
September 24, 2013

In Defense of the Power of the Senate

When witnesses are gagged and barred from appearing before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and a subpoena for a vital resource person remains unsigned, I, as chairperson of the Blue Ribbon Committee, am duty-bound to defend the rules of the Senate and most importantly, to defend the Senate's power pursuant to the Constitution.

The power of the Senate to conduct investigations in aid of legislation exists because of a clear and unequivocal Constitutional provision. Article VI of the 1987 Constitution states:

Section 21. The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure. The rights of persons appearing in, or affected by, such inquiries shall be respected.

The Supreme Court itself has, time and again, upheld this power and has said that:

1. "On-going judicial proceedings does not preclude hearings in aid of legislation." (Romero, et. al v. Chavez, et. al., GR No. 174105, April 2, 2009)

2. "The mere filing of a criminal or an administrative complaint before a court or quasi-judicial body should not automatically bar the conduct of legislative investigation. Otherwise, it would be extremely easy to subvert any intended inquiry by Congress through the convenient ploy of instituting a criminal or an administrative complaint. Surely, the exercise of sovereign legislative authority, of which the power of legislative inquiry is an essential component, cannot be made subordinate to a criminal or administrative complaint." (Standard Chartered Bank v. Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions, and Currencies, GR. NO. 167173, December 27, 2007)

The separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branch is sacred to the survival of a true democracy. For as long as no encroachment in jurisdiction occurs, each branch must be allowed to exercise its power independently, without being chained to dilatory and baseless tactics.

Even the Supreme Court, in the case of Senate Blue Ribbon Committee v. Judge Majaducon (GR No. 136760, July 29, 2003), reminds us the even the court has no authority to prohibit the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee from requiring a respondent to appear and testify before it. This is clearly applicable to this Committee's desire to compel Janet Lim-Napoles to be present in its hearings.

When I started this investigation, I promised the Filipino people that no stone shall be left unturned. I am determined to keep that promise.

With the Constitution and Supreme Court rulings on my side, I call on all forces who wish to weaken, diminish, and destroy the power of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and the Senate itself to stand down, back off, and allow us to do our job.

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