Drilon: Ombudsman can’t suspend lawmakers linked to pork scam-A A +A
Sunday, September 15, 2013
MANILA -- Legislators who allegedly pocketed pork barrel funds through fake non-government organizations (NGOs) could not be suspended to give way for an impartial investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman, Senate President Franklin Drilon said.
Drilon’s reaction came after civic organization Citizens Crime Watch (CCW) last Friday asked for the preventive suspension of five senators and 23 congressmen listed in its plunder complaint with the Ombudsman. A preventive suspension normally lasts six months.
“Whether or not that power to suspend can be exercised as against the members of Congress is debatable. Why? Because under the Constitution, the power to discipline members of Congress belongs to the House (of Representatives) or the Senate as the case may be,” Drilon told reporters on Saturday.
Expelling a member of Congress isn’t that easy. In past instances, the House waited for final judgment regarding a lawmaker’s case before delisting him from the roll.
This was the treatment in the cases of former Zamboanga del Norte Representative Romeo Jalosjos (rape) and former Dinagat Representative Ruben Ecleo Jr (graft).
That explains why former President turned Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, currently detained for plunder charges, is still allowed to discharge her duties, said Drilon.
“This supports the theory that indeed, the application of the constitutional principle that a matter of disciplining members of Congress belongs to both Houses,” he said.
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is expected to file plunder and malversation charges on Monday with the Ombudsman. Drilon said it will take time for the anti-graft office to assess the cases, considering there are 17 boxes of evidence.
“It is not a simple case where a one-page document is submitted,” he said.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales formed three teams with 15 members each to analyze and validate the NBI report.
A team will also make recommendations based on the analysis of the information gathered by the NBI. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)