Blue Ribbon hearings must be time-bound, efficient — Tolentino

Blue Ribbon hearings must be time-bound, efficient â Tolentino
This is a photo which shows Sen. Francis Tolentino, who chaired the committees on local government and urban planning, housing, and resettlement in the 18th Congress.
Senate PRIB / Sen. Francis Tolentino's Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Francis Tolentino, who is being eyed as among the next leaders of the chamber's Blue Ribbon Committee, said Tuesday that the committee must hold hearings that are time-bound and efficient. 

He added there must be an additional stage where lawmakers would pre-determine whether there is enough evidence to hold a hearing or not. 

"The next Blue Ribbon in terms of committee hearings should be time bound. We should be wary of the resources of the government. We should be wary of the time of the persons being invited, as well as the resources of the Senate as well as the public interest," Tolentino said in an interview with TeleRadyo on Tuesday. 

Aside from Tolentino, senator-elect Alan Peter Cayetano is also reported to be vying for the Blue Ribbon Chairmanship, who will lead the committee which covers matters related to the investigation of "malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance" by officers and employees of the government and its agencies and branches, among others.

Before talking about the committee's composition, there must be an additional stage where there would be a "preliminary determination" of whether there is enough evidence to hold hearings, according to Tolentino. 

He said this in relation to the hearings on the controversial multi-billion peso pandemic contracts between the Philippine government and start-up firm Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. In the last Congress, nearly 20 hearings were held by the Blue Ribbon committee over a span of seven months. 

Tolentino, who was a member of the Blue Ribbon Committee during the 18th Congress, was among the senators who did not sign the draft report detailing the findings on the Pharmally hearings. 

The partial report, earlier released by Blue Ribbon Chairperson Sen. Richard Gordon's office, recommended charges against President Rodrigo Duterte for allegedly betraying public trust when he appointed Pharmally backer Michael Yang as an economic adviser to the president in 2018, discredited the credibility of the Senate and Commission on Audit and ordered a "patently-illegal" memorandum stopping his cabinet and other officials for attending the hearings, among others. 

A committee report can be brought to the plenary if it gets the signatures of majority of the members. Two more signatures were needed for the Pharmally draft committee report. 

On Tuesday, Tolentino, a lawyer, said that Duterte should not have been included "because there was never been a breach of public trust", adding that constitutional lawyers and judges will concur with him. 

RELATED: Zubiri says he'll sign Pharmally probe report if allegations vs Duterte are removed

The 19th Congress will open on July 25. Although the committee chairmanships have already been announced by likely Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri, senators still have to vote on the posts once the next Congress officially begins. — Angelica Y. Yang






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