MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senator Nancy Binay took exception to the release of the Senate report into the pork barrel scam without consultation and the signature of the 16 other committee members, including herself.
The minority senator criticized the decision of Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Teofisto “TG” Guingona III to announce the recommendation to file plunder charges against her 3 allies over the pork barrel scam.
“Sana kinonsulta muna kami dahil maaari naman po kaming ipatawag para sa mga importanteng desisyon tulad nito. Ni hindi pa po namin nakikita ang nilalaman ng report. Sana po ay nabigyan muna kami ng kahit summary ng draft report,” Binay said in a statement on Tuesday, April 1.
(I wish he consulted us first, because he could have called us for important decisions like this. We did not even see the contents of the report. I wish we could have gotten even just a summary of the draft report.)
Binay was responding to the press briefing of Guingona Tuesday afternoon, where he said the committee found basis to recommend the filing of plunder and other criminal charges against senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. The 3 are members of the Senate minority bloc.
Guingona said the 3 were part of an elaborate scheme to funnel development funds to fake non-governmental organizations in exchange for kickbacks.
Yet, citing Senate rules, Binay said the report Guingona released is not official because a majority of the committee members and the Senate officers should have first approved it. She added that any decision of the committee should be discussed and approved by majority vote.
“Ikinagulat ko ang biglaang pagpapatawag ni Senator TG Guingona ng press conference patungkol sa findings ng blue ribbon committee sa pork barrel scam.While he has the right to express his views as committee chairman, I feel that Sen. TG should have been more circumspect before making any public announcement,” she added. (I was surprised when Sen TG Guingona suddenly called a press conference on the findings of the blue ribbon committee on the pork barrel scam.)
Drilon: Report only TG recommendation
Senate President Franklin Drilon told Rappler that the signature of majority of the members of the committee is needed to make the report official.
“Until the report is signed by a majority of the committee, it is a recommendation of Senator Guingona. The majority of the committee members would have to sign and adopt the report before it becomes officially a committee report,” Drilon said.
Asked if he will sign the report, Drilon responded, “The Senate President is not a member of the committee and does not sign the report.”
Committee members Senators Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Bam Aquino told Rappler they too have not yet seen nor signed the final committee report before Guingona’s press conference.
Pimentel agreed that the report is not yet official. “Yes, it is not a committee report until the majority of the members sign it but the chair has the right to announce the completion of his report.”
The senator added that he will decide on Wednesday whether or not to sign the report because he has not yet seen it.
‘All docs official’
Senators Francis Escudero and Antonio Trillanes IV though expressed a different view. Escudero said all documents from the Senate or any of its committees are official at whatever stage.
“It’s a draft committee report prepared by the committee, and if majority of its members sign, it will be reported out on the floor and voted upon in the plenary,” Escudero told Rappler.
The senator said he has yet to decide whether or not to sign the report because he too has not yet read it.
Trillanes said Guingona discussed the contents of the report with him and he will sign it.
“The Chairman is presumed to be speaking for the committee unless challenged by a member, in which case, a vote would be taken,” Trillanes told Rappler.
The members of the blue ribbon committee are:
- Chairperson: Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III
- Vice Chairperson: Senator Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III
- Senator Grace Poe
- Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV
- Senator Antonio Trillanes IV
- Senator Cynthia Villar
- Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago
- Senator Lito Lapid
- Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III
- Senator Francis Escudero
- Senator Pia Cayetano
- Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr
- Senator Loren Legarda
- Senator Nancy Binay (minority)
- Senator JV Ejercito (minority)
- Senator Jinggoy Estrada (minority)
- Senator Gregorio Honasan II (minority)
Guingona’s announcement came just about an hour ahead of the press conference of the Office of the Ombudsman announcing that it found probable cause to file plunder charges against the 3 senators, Napoles, and 6 other accused in the scam.
Estrada said the two announcements were a “very well orchestrated April Fools’ Day operation.”
He again sought to discredit the Senate investigation, saying his colleagues used it to promote their 2016 political ambitions. – Rappler.com