Press Release
February 4, 2009


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chair of the economic affairs committee, wrote a letter "respectfully requesting" World Bank country director Bert Hofman to give to her committee the documents issued during the probe that led to the blacklisting of three Filipino firms.

Santiago was responding to an online news item alleging that a Japanese contractor, who has since left the country, allegedly linked First Gentleman Miguel Arroyo to the alleged collusion among the three firms.

"The internet news item is hearsay and therefore has no probative value," said Santiago , a former RTC judge.

Santiago said that she has a copy of the World Bank final report, and that it does not mention the alleged testimony against the First Gentleman.

"In my letter to World Bank Director Hofman, I acknowledged that no Philippine government agency can subpoena the officials or the documents of the Bank. So I appealed to him, in the interest of Philippine public service and our anticorruption campaign, to voluntarily release the documents to the committee," Santiago said.

The senator said that as much as possible, congressional hearings should abide by the Rules of Court.

"The Rules of Court prohibiting hearsay are mandatory in judicial courts. If a Senate committee endorses to the Ombudsman or to the prosecutors a criminal case based only on hearsay evidence, it will be thrown out," she said.

Santiago said that under the hearsay rule, a witness can testify only to what he has perceived by his own senses.

"If the World Bank gives me the documents that incriminate the First Gentleman or any other public official, I will immediately set a hearing and invite them. If they don't appear, I'll take it a step farther and subpoena them," she said.

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