Pimentel Assures Responsible Fiscalizing; Senators Clash over Comelec Ruling on Recto, Honasan Placing in Poll List

By Casayuran, Mario B. | Manila Bulletin, July 29, 2001 | Go to article overview

Pimentel Assures Responsible Fiscalizing; Senators Clash over Comelec Ruling on Recto, Honasan Placing in Poll List


Casayuran, Mario B., Manila Bulletin


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr. assured the Senate majority bloc yesterday that the Senate minority bloc will always adhere to the tenets of responsibility, fairness, and objectivity 'in fiscalizing the Arroyo administration.'

Pimentel made the assurance after administration senators and the minority bloc began to throw verbal punches on the Senate session hall over a request of opposition Sen. Edgardo J. Angara, president of the opposition Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), to study carefully a Commission on Elections (Comelec) resolution installing administration Sen. Ralph Recto as the 12th senator and opposition Sen. Gregorio Honasan as having garnered the 13th place in the May 14 senatorial elections.

Honasan had filed a protest with the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) claiming that the 12th place rightfully belongs to him.

Sen. Blas F. Ople, also of the minority bloc, had earlier rejected the call of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for a one-year moratorium on criticism, saying this would mean gagging the political opposition and the media.

In previous Congresses before the declaration of martial law in 1972, an opposition-dominated Congress usually gave the Chief Executive a criticism-free 100 days or the so-called "honeymoon period."

"The people can expect the opposition senators to be responsible critics of the administration. That means we will support legislation that will be good for the country, whether it was initiated by the President, the administration lawmakers or whoever," Pimentel said.

At the opening of the 12th Congress last July 23, the majority bloc installed Senators Franklin M. Drilon and Manuel Villar as Senate president and Senate president pro tempore, respectively. Drilon won over Pimentel while Villar won over Ople.

In a related development, Pimentel said he frowns on any move to curtail or weaken the investigative authority of the powerful Senate Blue Ribbon committee because the committee serves as a deterrent to graft-prone government functionaries.

Pimentelwas the chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee during the 11th Congress which investigated, among others, the payola charges of former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis "Chavit" Singson against deposed President Estrada.

"I am against reducing the jurisdiction of the Blue Ribbon committee. Its powers should be expanded instead of being diminished. That is the way it should be to make it more effective in going after public officials who commit abuses or wrongdoing," he said.

Senate observers said the rejection of Senator Joker Arroyo of the chairmanship of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee had the effect of refusing to undertake a committee hearing on the bribery charges against the First Gentleman, Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo. …

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