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Senators to hale Palace to SC anew on EO 464

Senators to hale Palace to SC anew on EO 464

By TJ Burgonio Inquirer
Last updated 10:45am (Mla time) 08/11/2006

SENATORS will seek the Supreme Court’s intervention if executive branch officials continue to invoke Malacañang’s Executive Order No. 464 to avoid having to attend Senate inquiries.

“We are prepared to go back all the way to the Supreme Court if [they] continue to invoke EO 464,” Senator Franklin Drilon told reporters Thursday.

Senator Joker Arroyo, who had rebuked Malacañang over the snubs, which he branded as “concerted moves” to embarrass the chamber, also said the Senate was “prepared” for another face-off with the Palace over EO 464.

“Both sides are like fighting cocks girding for a fight, and this is not good. It’s a confrontation again but, ah, the Senate is prepared,” Arroyo said in a briefing late Wednesday afternoon.

In a rerun of last year’s skirmish between the two equal branches of government over EO 464 that was settled by the Supreme Court, labor and workers’ welfare officials recently twice skipped the Senate labor committee’s hearing on the status of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) fund.

Then Philippine Regulation Commission officials skipped on Tuesday the civil service committee’s hearing on the alleged leak of test questions in last June’s nursing board exams.

The officials cited the Senate committees’ failure to state the statutes that prompted the inquiries and list the questions to be asked in their invitations to the hearings as the reason for their non-appearance, stressing the requirements were laid out in the Supreme Court ruling on EO 464.

But the senators chose to avoid a confrontation with the Palace and decided to ask the Senate legal department to study the high court’s ruling vis-à-vis the snubs, with the aim of citing the executive branch officials in contempt.

“I don’t want to jump the gun at this point. Because the caucus has already decided to let the legal counsel study it first,” Drilon said.

But Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr. said the option of asking the SC to cite the no-shows in contempt was being considered.

“That can be done,” Magsaysay told reporters.

While the Senate labor committee suspended its hearing on the OWWA fund, the civil service committee is pressing ahead with its inquiry into the leak of test questions in the nursing board exams.

“We have to finish this. It will be to the detriment of the examinees if this is kept hanging,” labor committee chairman Senator Rodolfo Biazon, who set the next hearing for Wednesday, said in an interview.

In contrast, Cabinet members showed up in full force at the Thursday’s finance committee hearing chaired by Drilon on the 46.9 billion-peso supplemental budget.


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