Aquino dismisses Santiago's threat to block Cabinet men confirmation-A A +A
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III pooh poohed Monday the statement of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago that she will block the confirmation of Cabinet officials who skipped the hearing on former Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno.
In an interview in Quezon Province, President Aquino denied that the Executive branch snubbed the Senate investigation noting that it only executed proper procedure on inviting Cabinet officials into an inquiry.
"It is up to her (Santiago). But we hope that she follows the process where there are rules and guidelines must be observed by all members of the legislature," Aquino said at the sidelines of the oath-taking of new Liberal Party members in Lucena City.
Santiago, a member of the Commission on Appointments (CA), has vowed to block the confirmation of the Cabinet officials who did not attend the hearing of her committee on revision of codes and laws namely newly-appointed Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje.
She said she will veto their appointments as long as she is still a senator and a member of the CA.The confirmation of a presidential appointee could be blocked by a single vote from the member of the CA.
Aquino believed that Santiago's warning will not pose a problem to Roxas’s assumption of his new position.
"I don't think so. But, again, we will follow and abide by the requirements of the Constitution and processes involved," he said.
The President likewise denied that the Executive refused to cooperate in Santiago's investigation into the anomalous transactions and questionable actions of Puno as undersecretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in charge of police affairs.
"It is not right to say that we did not cooperate. I think the record will show that we always cooperate. What we are saying it that we have procedures that lawmakers should also obey," the Chief Executive said.
"You made the rules, there are processes, and you will not follow. I think that's inappropriate," he added.
Aquino said it is the prerogative of his Cabinet men to know the questions to be asked in the Senate inquiry before attending it as stated under Article VI, Section 22 of the Constitution.
"If my alter ego is summoned, he/she has the right to know the questions to be able to prepare for it and will not come to the hearing to answer 'I do not know.' If you want a resource person, let’s give them opportunity to prepare, to be able to reply to your questions," he said.
The President also questioned the authority of Santiago's committee to investigate on Puno. Last week, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. raised the issue of the lack of resolution passed by the Senate to back the probe.
"I have already pointed out, for their education, that several provisions in the Senate Rules and the Senate rules concerning inquiries in aid of legislation strongly imply that there is no need for a formal resolution, if the committee has competent jurisdiction," Santiago said.
Out of the 11 members who comprise the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, only Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III took part.
As a result, Santiago decided to skip sessions from Monday to Wednesday in protest of her colleagues' apparent snub of the one-time hearing. This was in contradiction to her statement last Friday that she has no resentment toward senators who skipped the probe.
Santiago said she is avoiding going to the Senate her blood pressure might shot up again.
"Heart Evangelista called me early today to say that I should no longer go to the Senate if I will only lose my temper," Santiago said, adding she received a similar request from her son, Archie.
Meantime, Aquino refused to confirm whether Puno will be moved to the Department of Agriculture saying that everything is “under consideration” at this moment. (Jill Beltran/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)