Palace surprised by Guingona's action vs De Lima on 'pork' hearing-A A +A
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
THE treatment of Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday's hearing on the alleged P10 billion pork barrel scam was surprising, a Palace official said.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that de Lima attended the Senate hearing in "good faith."
"In our parlance, she did not snub the Senate, she showed up, she faced the committee," she said.
And based from her observation, Valte said that when a person attends a Senate hearing in good faith, "I don't think she should be treated like that."
"The question is whether or not (Guingona) is an ally, but it's really actually the treatment, because...she's (de Lima) there, she went there, she appeared in person. She respectfully stated her piece that there may be a possible conflict with an existing law that we, in the Executive, are also bound to abide by and to execute; and, in fact, did not categorically state that this is wrong—a particular thing is wrong or right—but deferred to the office that could interpret that particular law," she said.
"The treatment was quite surprising," Valte added.
Guingona accused de Lima of "undermining" the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee after she did not bring with her in the hearing Benhur Luy and other whistle-blowers in the supposed multi-billion peso pork barrel scam.
De Lima has said that she wanted first the opinion of the Office of the Ombudsman if it would not violate any law if the whistle-blowers would continue to testify before the committee even if complaints were already filed against 38 individuals who were allegedly involved in the alleged fund mess before the Ombudsman.
Valte said that President Benigno Aquino III has given De Lima the leeway to decide on any legal issues involving the executive branch.
"You know, the Secretary of Justice is given the leeway, given that she's really the counsel of the executive branch when it comes to legal matters. Of course, the President expects her to execute her mandate in faithful compliance to our existing laws," Valte said when asked if it was De Lima's own decision to seek first the opinion of the Ombudsman. (SDR/Sunnex)