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Senate seeks dialogue with Palace over probes

Senate seeks dialogue with Palace over probes

By TJ Burgonio

InquirerLast updated 09:42am (Mla time) 08/14/2006

MORE SENATORS, including allies of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, are pushing for a dialogue with Malacañang over differing interpretations of the Supreme Court ruling on Executive Order No. 464, particularly on government officials’ appearances at inquiries.

“We should have a dialogue for the purpose of a harmonious relationship for the good of the country,” Senator Joker Arroyo said in an interview.

The agenda should be the “ground rules for investigation,” Arroyo said, adding: “We should have a dialogue on a working arrangement because this is done by the government.”

Senator Edgardo Angara broached the idea of a dialogue last week, saying both sides should sit down and draft a “gentleman’s agreement” on how to comply with the high court ruling that nullified some provisions of EO 464, which bar officials from appearing at inquiries without the President’s go-signal.

Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan voiced support for this, saying that while there were issues in which the senators “did not see eye to eye” with the Palace, “there is no way that one branch can ignore another and still expect to have a dynamic and effective constitutional democracy.”

There was another impasse when Malacañang snubbed the Senate’s inquiries into the status of the overseas workers’ funds and the alleged leakage during the June nursing board examinations.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita argued that the snubs were an offshoot of the Senate’s failure to name the statute related to the inquiry as well as the advance questions, as suggested by the high tribunal’s decision, but which the Senate maintained applied only to the question hour.

At the question hour, officials are given the privilege of being furnished advance questions.
While riled by the snubs, the senators merely asked their legal department to study the high court ruling vis-á-vis the non-appearances of the officials concerned, and even suspended their inquiry into the status of the overseas workers’ trust fund until the crisis in war-torn Lebanon was over.

Senator Arroyo however insisted that the Palace should allow officials of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Philippine Regulation Commission (PRC) to attend separate hearings on the use of OWWA funds for private investments, and on the leakage of test questions in the nursing board exams.


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