Enrile: Arroyo may snub probe on bridge projects-A A +A
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
MANILA -- Former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may not personally defend herself before a Senate inquiry on the alleged overpricing of the P111-billion bridge program because of inter-parliamentary courtesy.
In a chance interview, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said Arroyo may be invited by the Senate blue ribbon committee but she will not be compelled to appear in the probe, which is set to begin on September 24.
"She is a member of Congress. I don't know, I will leave it to Senator (Sergio) Osmeña (III) to take the necessary action," he said.
In response, Osmeña said the law still allows either house of Congress to issue a subpoena to anyone.
"However, the committee usually extends a simple invitation. Many legislators attend to clear the air and help find the truth," he said in a text message to Sun.Star.
Osmeña earlier called for an investigation into the project that allegedly allowed Arroyo and other officials to pad prices of materials by 16-21 percent of the total project cost or roughly P20 billion.
The Cebuano senator said the previous administration erred when it pushed for the construction of steel bridges, which are more expensive to maintain than the concrete ones. The project was also allegedly done without public bidding.
Arroyo's spokesperson Elena Bautista-Horn had said they would not bother to speculate on the motive and timing of Osmeña's accusations but Ferdinand Topacio, legal counsel of the former leader’s husband, Jose Miguel, was blunt.
Topacio said the committee chaired by administration ally Senator Teofisto Guingona III will only try to stage a media circus out of the entire investigation.
"It seems that the administration has run out of constructive things to do and has once again gone back to the tired tack of blaming the Arroyos," he said.
Arroyo is already facing several charges such as graft and electoral sabotage but she walked out of hospital detention in late July after she was allowed to post bail in her poll cheating case. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)