Press Release
September 24, 2013


The Senate President did the right thing in signing the subpoena for the whistleblowers. This is a clear affirmation of our position that the Constitution and the Supreme Court both uphold the power of the Senate to conduct investigations in aid of legislation. More importantly, this is a clear recognition of the people's right to information.

If the Senate President can allow the whistleblowers to come before the Senate, I see no logical reason why he should prevent the Blue Ribbon Committee from summoning Janet Lim-Napoles: the very reason why this investigation is being conducted in the first place. Allowing the whistleblowers but disallowing Napoles from appearing before the Senate makes no logical sense.

If we accept the invocation of the Ombudsman's power to protect the confidentiality of matters before it, then the Senate President should not have signed the subpoena for the whistleblowers. The different but unreasonable treatment between the whistleblowers and Janet Lim-Napoles raises the obvious question: what is so confidential about Ms. Napoles' possible testimony that it cannot be made under oath before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee? It just does not make logical and legal sense.

We have to emphasize that the Ombudsman, in her letter, did not prohibit the Senate from calling Janet Lim-Napoles. While we respect the Ombudsman's advise, we cannot follow it. The Senate is independent from the Ombudsman. The Senate is not bound by the advice of the Ombudsman.

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.

If the Senate President refuses to defend the power of the Senate, I must continue to defend it myself. The Senate cannot surrender its powers without a clear legal justification. Allow me again to discuss the legal basis of the Senate's power.

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